MUMBAI, India – A collegiate tribunal has been instituted by the Diocese of Thamarassery as part of initiating penal proceedings against a former parish priest who has been suspensed for alleged breaking Church law.
Bishop Remigiose Inchananiyil sent the official announcement to Father Thomas Puthiyaparambil, the priest concerned.
The priest is accused of going against the decisions of the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church and delivering public speeches violating ecclesiastical disciplines. The order also said the decision to initiate penal proceedings was taken based on a preliminary investigation report.
Centered in the southern Indian state of Kerala, the Syro-Malabar Church has more than four million followers worldwide, making it the second largest of the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome after the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.
The attempt by Church authorities to return Puthiyaparambil to the eparchy of Thamarassery and assume a new assignment was in vain as the priest “obstinately insisted” on the decision, thus violating the Canon Law norms.
Though he was immediately suspended based on a preliminary investigation report, Puthiyaparambil refused to follow the request to reside at Good Shepherd Priest Home in Marikunnu, earning another charge.
Puthiyaparambil rejected the charges and said the constitution of an ecclesiastical court was something unheard of in Christian churches, and what he did was just to expose the corruption and decadence that were deeply rooted in the Church nowadays.
“If it continues like this, the Church here will face the same fate that it met with in Europe. I have, of course, spoken against such moral degradation persisting in the Church, voiced concern about it, and wrote against it,” he said to the local media.
The priest also made it clear that he did not speak against any particular individual in the Church.
Puthiyaparambil had told Matters India in mid-May that he had declined to accept any parish ministry but would continue “to live the values of a Catholic priesthood.”
The priest, who has served several parishes after his ordination on December 30, 2002, said he has a prophetic call to follow the teachings of Christ “in its real sense” and work for eliminating the decay in the Church.
He wrote that he was upset with some recent scandals related to Syro-Malabar Church leaders, including involving Cardinal George Alencherry.
The cardinal is facing 14 criminal cases in connection with land deals executed in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese since his appointment as its head in May 2011.
“The Church suffers from moral turpitude and lack of financial transparency. There are court cases against bishops and many of them openly indulge in political alliance,” Puthiyaparambil said.
Maintaining that he has no problem with the diocese, the priest said he is not going away from Jesus.
“The first thing I want to say is that I still love the diocese of Thamarassery and all the people of God in the diocese as I loved them before,” he said. He then urged the people not to be provoked over his suspension or do something “contrary to the love of God.”
He also said that he is convinced that neither the diocese nor its leaders have any problems with him personally.
“I have taken up the task of trying to eliminate the many decays faced by the Kerala Church in general and the Syro-Malabar Church in particular. I knew then that it was the way of the cross full of stones and thorns,” Puthiyaparambil said.
The “Decree of Suspension” was issued by Inchananiyil against Puthiyaparambil after the bishop heard him to explain “the scandalous situation created by his public grave disobedience.”
The decree pointed out Puthiyaparambil was served a transfer order on April 29. However, on May 13 the priest announced through a letter his decision to quit parish ministry.