After setting off a furore among the Latin Catholic community with his reported remarks about the best course to be followed in the wake of the February 15 killing of two unarmed fishermen by Italian marksmen off the Kerala coast, Cardinal George Alencherry has clarified that he had not sought a settlement through mediation.

He was all for truth and justice prevailing in accordance with the Indian law.

Cardinal Mar Alencherry, who is Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, said that Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, had withdrawn its version of the interview with him and put out a new report.

Plea for exemplary punishment

In a statement in Kochi, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) also sought to clear the air, saying that the Italian marines should be given exemplary punishment within the Indian legal system.

Metropolitan Archbishop of the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram Susai Pakiam said that there was no question of the Vatican interfering with the Indian legal processes or its being allowed to do so. The Cardinal's reported statement was blown out of proportion, he felt.

However, the reaction from the Latin Catholic community in Kollam was quite sharp. The general feeling among the community was that the Cardinal's reported statement would only serve to weaken the case against the marines arrested under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Doramma, wife of Valentine, one of the two fishermen shot dead by the marines, feared that high-level attempts were on to whisk the ship away from Kochi. Her son said the Cardinal seemed to be taking sides with his father's killers.

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