Pope Suspends Bishop of Cochin

By Shaju Philip
Indian Express
October 24, 2008

Thiruvananthapuram, October 23 : The Vatican on Thursday suspended Bishop John Thattunkal of the Latin Catholic diocese of Cochin on charges of adopting a young woman for his "spiritual refreshment", marking the first action against a prelate in the 2000 years of the Catholic Church in the country. In another coincidence, the beleaguered Cochin diocese, established in 1557, is the first diocese in India.

"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.

A three-member Bishops' panel would conduct a detailed inquiry into the adoption, which had snowballed into a major scandal. But Thattunkal could continue as a bishop until the final verdict.

The Church, which has been basking in the reflected glory of Sister Alphonsa, who was elevated to sainthood barely 10 days back, found Thattunkal's deviation from Catholic teachings embarrassing. Though Thattunkal was suspended, the controversy is likely to assume new proportions in the days to come.


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