Plan to send priest home criticized

By Ryan Dunn
Toledo Blade
July 21, 2015

Samuel Punnoor has been ordered to return to his home diocese in India.

A national advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse is criticizing the actions of the Rev. Samuel Punnoor and officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said Monday that returning Father Punnoor to his home diocese in India is irresponsible behavior.

“This solves nothing. In fact, this increases the chances of kids getting hurt,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Chicago-based group, in a written statement.

An ecclesiastical investigation of Father Punnoor determined he violated the diocese’s rules of harassment and physical contact with youth.

Citing the potential for other cases, Ms. Blaine asked Bishop Daniel Thomas to visit parishes where Father Punnoor worked and encourage whistle-blowers.

Father Punnoor served as vicar at Most Blessed Sacrament in Toledo and St. Joseph in Maumee. He was suspended May 22.

“Furthermore, he should put Father Punnoor in a remote, secure, independently run treatment facility, at least for a few months, instead of throwing him on a plane home,” she said.

The organization says it is the largest and oldest support group for victims of clergy abuse.

Bishop Thomas accepted the review board’s recommendation that Father Punnoor return to his home diocese in India, remain on paid leave, maintain no priestly ministry in Toledo’s diocese, and have no access to children, according to the diocese.

Zach Silka, spokesman for the diocese, declined to specify what Father Punnoor’s had done. It is a personnel matter, and commenting would be disrespectful to the victim, Mr. Silka said.

Father Punnoor was informed Friday and given about two weeks to leave the country. The Holy See will review all findings and decide if any future actions will occur, he said.

An investigation by Lucas County Children Services determined that what occurred did not constitute the legal definition of sexual abuse, according to the diocese. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment Monday. A Toledo police spokesman said a report was not made on the investigation, and he could not detail the allegations.




Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.