Kerala Bishop Suspended

CathNews (Australia)
October 24, 2008

Pope Benedict yesterday suspended Kochi, Kerala Bishop John Thattunkal pending an investigation of charges that he adopted a young woman for "spiritual refreshment".

The Indian Express reports it is the first action against a prelate in the 2000 years of the Catholic Church in India. In another coincidence, the beleaguered Kochi diocese, established in 1557, is the first Latin diocese in India, the paper says.

"The Bishop has been suspended from the administrative responsibility of Cochin diocese; instead Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, of Verapoly Archdiocese, has been given charge of the diocese. The suspension would come into effect from tomorrow itself," said the Archbishop's public relations officer Fr Yesudas Pazhambally, quoting the communiqué from Pope Benedict XVI.

"Going by past records of similar enquiries that have been conducted outside our country, no one should be surprised if the enquiry takes a few years. The communiqué says that a final decision would be taken only after the enquiry report is submitted and until then he remains suspended," Alathara said, according to an IANS report.

A three member Bishops' panel is to conduct a detailed inquiry into the adoption, which has snowballed into a major scandal.

Trouble began for Thattumkal after local media reported the 58 year old bishop had adopted a woman named Sony Joseph whose age was said to be 26.

It has now emerged that she is in her late 30s.

The news is believed to have been leaked by angry priests of the diocese.

The bishop, in a letter, said he was willing to withdraw the adoption if the Church felt he had erred.

The Pope's action comes after the Delhi based Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, had submitted a detailed report to the Vatican after summoning the controversial bishop.


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