In late June, the Vatican relieved India’s Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, of all his administrative duties in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, technically known as an “archeparchy.” Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat was appointed Apostolic Administrator for the troubled diocese of the Eastern Rite Church. Three prelates were also removed from their administrative duties in the same archdiocese. This is the first time in the history of the Syro-Malabar church that the Vatican has suspended the administrative powers of all the bishops in a diocese.
At the core of the Bishops’ removal is the Vatican’s concerns about financial scandals and mismanagement in the Archdiocese as well as divisions among the clergy, the auxiliary bishops of the diocese and Cardinal George Alencherry. Two senior priests, a real estate agent and Cardinal Alencherry were accused of selling several plots of land illegally, leading to a loss of over $10 million. Critics said the deal violated both canon and civil law since the land was sold for well below market value
In his “instructions letter” to Bishop Manathodath, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches wrote: “What seriously preoccupies the Apostolic See is not only the financial situation but the grave situation of ecclesiastical division which has been created.” Sandri’s instructions were also very clear that “The Major Archbishop should absolutely not be involved in the decisions regarding the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly.”
For additional coverage on the Syro-Malabar situation:
Please click here to review Crux Now “Documents Detail Vatican Crackdown in Troubled Indian Archdiocese.”
Please select this link to review the National Catholic Reporter coverage.