Church row over forged documents takes new turn

Apostolic Administrator Jacob Manathodath named as second accused

Fresh trouble is brewing in the Syro-Malabar Church after it emerged that Bishop Jacob Manathodath, who was appointed by Pope Francis as the Apostolic Administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in the wake of the controversial land deals, is also a suspect in the case regarding the alleged forging of documents against the Major Archbishop of the Church, Cardinal George Alencherry.

Initially, it was reported that Fr. Paul Thelakkat, former official spokesperson for the Syro-Malabar Church, alone was named as a suspect in the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the police on a complaint lodged by the executive director of Syro-Malabar Church internet mission. It has now emerged that both Fr. Thelakkat and Bishop Jacob Manathodath are suspects in the case, which was first registered in the Central Police station. Later, when the case was transferred to the Thrikkakara police station, where it was re-registered, the name of Bishop Manathodath reportedly got omitted due to a “technical error”.

Thrikkakara police sources said that the name of one of the suspects got accidentally omitted due to a technical error and that it was corrected later. City Police Commissioner S. Surendran said that K.A. Vidyadharan, Assistant Commissioner, Control Room, has been entrusted with the investigation of the case.

Incidentally, the erroneous FIR with Fr. Thelakkat as the sole suspect had widely circulated in the social media following which some organisations even demanded his removal as editor of a Church-run weekly.

The chain of incidents started off with a section of priests handing over some documents related to bank transactions allegedly involving Cardinal George Alencherry to Fr. Thelakkat, who in turn, handed them over to Bishop Manathodath. The Bishop placed it before the Synod and the Cardinal alleged that they were forged documents. Following this, the Synod entrusted the executive director of the Syro-Malabar Church internet mission with the task of tracing the origin of those documents. It was following his petition that the Central Police had registered a case arraigning Fr. Thelakkat and Bishop Manathodath as suspects.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 2:37:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/church-row-over-forged-documents-takes-new-turn/article26593766.ece

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