Rumblings in the Vatican and in the wider Catholic world over the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI early this year, extensively reported in the international press, is being echoed in Kochi, the seat of Catholic conservatism in India.

The official spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church Father Paul Thelekkatt said in his column in a Malayalam daily this week that Pope Benedict, confronted by a group of top Vatican functionaries whom he could not control, resigned.

The article said the resignation of the Pope was not a long thought out one because he was preparing an encyclical (a letter from the Pope on aspects of Catholic doctrine) for the Year of Faith (October 2012 to November 2013). He resigned even before he sent out the encyclical.

The press in Europe, particularly Italy, had linked the resignation of the Pope to what the media accounts described as a top secret report that detailed the misdeeds of prelates (such as a bishop or cardinal) and corruption in the Holy See. The report was the result of an inquiry into what has come to be known in the media as ‘Vatileaks’, involving the Pope’s butler Paolo Gabriele, who stole and leaked Vatican documents.

Fr. Thelekkatt’s article said the leak of the papers by the butler was the result of power struggles in the corridors of power in the Vatican and cold wars among its top functionaries.

Reference to the Pope’s resignation came in an article titled ‘Fraudsters in God’s Own Country’ was in the context of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy being taken for a ride by his personal staff, some of whom are now in jail for misusing their position.

The crux of the article was that if subordinates in an office misused their position and committed crimes these deeds had to be accounted for by the superior officer.

He cited Thomas Aquinas to tell the readers that God allowed evil to happen. This is the result of freedom. Those who grant freedom may also be forced to see the misuse of the freedom. What happened in the office of the Chief Minister in Kerala has happened to rulers of countries.

Fr. Thelekkat’s article went on to say that God’s own country was a country of freedom and there would be fraudsters in it. Without this freedom, it will be a devilish dictatorship.

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