Action against priest: Church awaits directions from Vatican

Business Standard
May 18, 2015

Roman Catholic Church in is waiting for "directions" from the after taking initial action against a priest based on Canon for allegedly raping a teenaged girl earlier this year.

Police had yesterday issued a lookout notice against Fr Edwin Figarez, a priest attached to the Lourdes Matha Church, Puthenvelikkara in Ernakulam district after Kerala High rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

The priest, who remained underground to evade the police, has been missing ever since the High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea on May 5.

A spokesperson for Kottappuram Diocese said Figarez has been "suspended for the time being" from parish services after a pastoral commission appointed by the Bishop prepared a "preliminary report" about the alleged incident of sexually assaulting the 14-year-old in a church complex between the month of January and March this year, mostly when she came for confession.

"The report has been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Vatican which looks into the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests. They may appoint another Commission to further probe the matter. We are waiting for directions from the Vatican," Kottappuram Diocese Spokesman Fr Rocky Roby Kalathil told PTI.

"He (Figarez) is still a priest. For the time being he is suspended based on Canon law. Further decision will be taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican," he said.

Kalathil, however, said the Church is not expecting a "sudden decision" from the Holy See.

Meanwhile, police, who are finding it difficult to trace the priest, rejected the theory that Figarez went abroad using a fake passport. His passport has been confiscated soon after the High Court rejected the priest's bail plea.

Police sources said they are conducting probe into the case in many places including Bengaluru to nab the accused.

In her complaint, the girl's mother alleged that the priest abused her daughter many times when she sought his services for confession.


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