Kerala bishop admits to ‘bloody blessing’
By Ashraf Padanna
KOCHI: A controversial Kerala bishop has admitted conducting a blessing ceremony with the blood of a 26-year-old woman he has adopted.
In a letter distributed among some 100 priests in his diocese who gathered at the Bishop’s House, Fr John Thattumkal of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Kochi said he conducted the blessing with human blood considering it as that of Jesus Christ.
Considered a black magic ritual and disapproved by the official church, the ‘bloody ceremony’ was conducted to bless the bishop’s residence itself. The bishop said he had his own interpretation of the Bible and it was purely personal.
“I said the usual prayers while blessing the Bishop’s House. If anybody has any objection to this, any Catholic priest can bless the house anew,” Thattumkal said. “I have confessed to this before the Apostolic Nuncio on October 10.”
The meeting of the priests was called by the bishop on Monday. But some of them refused to enter the house saying it was blessed with blood. They entered only after a senior priest blessed it with holy water.
Many priests and the laity have asked the bishop to step down and have requested the papal office in Vatican to initiate punitive action against him, including disrobing. The Latin Catholic church has ordered a probe into the issue.
The 58-year-old Bishop adopted the woman saying he was impressed by her “spiritual powers”. He said their relationship was purely spiritual and he registered the adoption with a government office to give it civil validity giving her right to inherit his properties. He, however, apologised for the spiritual crisis that his actions have created in his diocese.
He also apologised for all his statements and deeds that had hurt the priests and the laity.
“I know my deeds have caused confusion and concern among the laity and also among the priests. If the church higher-ups ask me to withdraw from the adoption, I am prepared to do so,” reads the letter written by the bishop.
Not satisfied with the explanation, the priests insisted that the bishop had erred seriously and he should step down.
“The bishop told them that he was ready to quit if the Vatican finds him guilty,” said the Cochin Diocese’s public relations officer Fr Antony Thampy, who admitted that the woman stayed at the guesthouse in the Cochin bishop’s compound for some time after the adoption. Thattumkal’s superior Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil and the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to India Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana have already submitted their reports to the Vatican.
At St Lawrence Church where he led the holy mass on Sunday, the bishop criticised his detractors saying his conscience was clear and he would come out unscathed.
Catholic priests here believe the action of the bishop is a violation of the church law since he is a father figure for all believers under his diocese and there should not be discrimination. It has also no precedence.
Thattumkal, himself a Canon Law expert, however, justified his action arguing that there had been instances where priests and bishops had adopted children.