Kerala: Probe into Bishop's 'black magic'

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Kochi, Oct 25: Suspended Kochi Bishop John Thattunkal, relieved of his administrative responsibilities by the Vatican on Thursday, Oct 23 has been accused of indulging in practices bordering on 'black magic' besides illegally adopting a young woman. The 58-year-old Bishop allegedly took the blood of the young woman and blessed the Bishop's House here with it. He also reportedly allowed a priest from the Orthodox Church to celebrate the Holy Mass.

''These are fundamental faith and moral errors not in line with Catholic law. The three-member Bishops enquiry committee, set up by Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil yesterday, would examine these allegations besides the controversy regarding the ''adoption'' of the 26-year-old girl by Bishop Thattunkal,'' spokesperson for the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) Fr. Stephen Alathura told sources.

Confirming that Bishop Thattunkal had been summoned by the Vatican, Fr. Alathura said he was likely to go to Rome after appearing before the panel set up by Archbishop Acharuparambil.

As the situation in the Kochi Diocese, headed by the suspended Bishop was tense, the inquiry panel was expected to start its probe on a slow note, Church sources said.

A learned scholar, holding a Doctorate in Canon Law and a Masters in Civil Law, Bishop Thattunkal was appointed as the Kochi Bishop on May ten, 2000.

Erected in February, 1558, the Kochi Diocese of the Latin Catholic Church is among the oldest Christian Dioceses in the country.

The inquiry committee set up by Archbishop Acharuparambil is headed by Bishop of Kottapuram Dr Francis Kalarakal and the other members are Bishop of Vijayapuram Sebastain Thekethecheril and Bishop of Neyattinakara Dr Vicent Samuel.

Though there is no time frame for the inquiry, sources said it could take upto three months for the panel to complete its task.

It was unlikely that the panel would question the girl at the centre of the adoption controversy, they added.

The panel would submit its report to Archbishop Acharuparambil, who will forward it to Archbishop Pedro Lopez Qunitana in Delhi, the Vatican Nunico to India, and eventually handed over to Vatican.

Bishop Thattunkal's adoption of the woman had left the Latin Catholic clergy and laity fuming. The daughter of a priest in the Orthodox Church in Pathanamthitta, she was allegedly frequenting the Bishop's house here and travelling with him. The legal procedure for the adoption was completed at the Mattancherry sub-registar office.

The Forane Vicars in the Diocese had come out in an open protest stating that the adoption was against the canon law.

UNI

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