63 priests in Kerala face criminal charges
Don Sebastian , Friday, October 19, 2007 04:33 IST
Offences include murder, rape, molestation, assault, abduction, theft and cheating
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forget the sheep, the Church has a tough task ahead in reclaiming its lost shepherds. If the data released by the Kerala Police is any indication, the weeds have spread among the wheat.
As many as 63 Christian priests in the state face criminal charges pending against them, reveals documents yielded as per the Right to Information Act.
Murder, attempt to murder, rape, molestation, assault, abduction, theft, break-in, cheating…almost every offence under the Indian Penal Code —and of course, the Ten Commandments — has been committed by the deviant priests. Worse, the biblical whitewashed tombs are still at the helm of affairs in parishes.
Going by the crime records of the past seven years, two priests have been accused of murder while ten are charged with attempt to murder. Yet another is booked for aiding in a murder. Joseph Antony and Maria Lal Manjali are accused of homicide.
Babu Chirakkavur, Mathew Jacob, ET Johnson, KP Mathai, Joy T Varghese, Jiju Varghese, Reji are accused of attempt to murder in cases registered in different police stations. Giving them company is Paul Payyappilly, parish priest of Pavaratti St Joseph’s Church, held under Explosives Act.
Priests also excel in crimes of passion. Five of them are rape accused. Jose Thadathil and TJ Joy, a CSI parish priest, are just two. Jose works in the Divine Retreat Centre, a pilgrim centre near Thrissur facing criminal inquiry ordered by the Kerala High Court. Sisters Viola and Nirmala are also involved in the case.
Father Joseph in Kollam is caught in an immoral traffic case. Ernakulam Infant Jesus Church vicar Thomas is an accused in a molestation case while Father Paul Vilangumpara is accused of molestation and abduction.
Yet another priest in coastal Thiruvananthapuram is accused of rape. Most of the priests have incurred cheating charges against them as part of their managerial functions.
Thomas Pothanamuzhi, Fr Thomas Kizhakkedath and Fr Ouseph — the principal, manager and former principal of St Aloysius College, Edathuva — have been accused of breach of trust.
A similar case has been charged in 2005 against Andrews Thekkekkandam, a vicar in Thamarasseri, the nerve centre of the Catholic Church’s present tirade against the Left government.
As many as five priests are accused of theft and break-in, taking the total number of the seeds on rocky ground to 63. This list excludes the suspects in the sensational murder of a nun in Kottayam in 1992.
Earlier, the CBI had taken two priests and two nuns to undergo truth serum tests in connection with the death of Sister Abhaya, who was found dead in a well on the premises of Pius X Convent, Kottayam.