Charges against Card Alencherry: another priest involved in the scandal

The Council of priests wants Fr Poothavelil charged. The later claimed that the former spokesman of the Syro-Malabar Church falsified documents against the cardinal in connection with the sale of some land owned by the local Church.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The case involving Card George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church (one of the three rites of the Indian Catholic Church), is getting more complicated.

Accused of recklessly selling Church-owned land, the archbishop was cleared by police this week of any wrongdoing.

The Council of local presbyters has sought action against Fr Antony Poothavelil for claiming that Fr Paul Thelakkat, former spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, had falsified documents in order to tarnish the cardinal's image. The latter is already under criminal investigation.

The case against Card Alencherry, two priests (Fr Joshy Puthuva and Fr Sebastian Vadakkumpadan), and intermediary Saju Varghese dates back to March 2018, when the Kerala High Court ordered an investigation.

According to the plaintiff, Mr Shine Varghese of Cherthala, the four sold some land in Kochi that belonged to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly without the prior authorisation of Church bodies and financial advisors of the diocese.

After months of investigations, Kerala police found that in fact the bank accounts presented as evidence against the cardinal had been falsified, but failed to determine who was responsible for the tampering.

On 18 March, Fr Joby Maprakavil, executive director of the Church's Internet Mission, filed a criminal complaint against Fr Thelakkat, author of the alleged forgery. The complaint was filed at the Thrikkakara police station.

The former spokesman, who had said the sale of land was illegal and asked for changes in the Church, allegedly forged the documents to discredit the cardinal at the Synod of Syro-Malabar bishops, which took place from 7 to 18 January in Kochi.

According to Council secretary Fr Kuriakose Mundadan, Poothavelil's statements to journalists were misleading and caused confusion in the minds of ordinary people.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)