Catholic priest suspended in India after marrying in Hindu temple

Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

June 29, 2022

By UCA News Reporter

Father Mullapally was suspended from public ministry in Kerala two years ago following a sex scandal

A Catholic priest has been suspended in southern India after he reportedly married a Hindu woman following her temple rituals.

Officials of Tellicherry Archdiocese in Kerala state announced the withdrawal of the priestly faculties of Father Mathew Mullapally on June 28, soon after pictures of the newly married couple flooded social media.

Mullapally has informed the archdiocese of his “definitive and non-retractable decision for personal reasons to leave the priesthood and to return to secular life,” said the letter, jointly signed by Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry and his chancellor Father Joseph Muttathukunnel.

The letter made no reference to the marriage but said Mullapally informed the archbishop of his “desire to get dispensation from all his clerical obligations and consequently of clerical rights as well.”

The archbishop after “mature consideration and due consultations has suspended him from the exercise of all his priestly faculties with immediate effect” as per canon laws, the letter said.

Mullapally “has no more permission to exercise any of those faculties either inside or outside” the archdiocese, the letter said.

Father Muttathukunnel told UCA News on June 29 that the priestly faculties of Mullapally have been withdrawn “as part of the laid-down policy of the Catholic Church.”

“The process for his dispensation from the priesthood was under process as he himself had sought it,” he said, adding that the archdiocese has completed its part in the dispensation process and has sent the documents to Rome for final approval.

The archdiocese could not confirm if Mullapally converted to Hinduism or was just following Hindu religious rituals for the purpose of marriage. The woman he married, according to media reports, is the mother of two girls.

Father Muttathukunnel also said “the Catholic Church has zero tolerance toward such acts” that are “always a scandal for the Church.”

Mullapally, a popular retreat preacher, was restrained from publicly exercising his priestly faculties in 2020 after being involved in a sex scandal.

Social media comments show that people sought his prayers and blessings, believing they worked wonders for them, and Catholics from neighboring parishes also flocked to attend his services.

Other commenters lauded the archbishop for taking prompt action.