Vatican suspends a bishop in Kerala

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Kochi, Oct 25 : The Archdioceses Varapuzha (Verapoly) in Kerala has set up a three-member committee of Bishops to inquire into the charges against a Bishop suspended by the Vatican over his adoption of a young woman as his "spiritual daughter".

The Vatican had suspended the 58-year-old, Bishop John Thattungal on Friday after a furore over the adoption of the young woman.

Bishop Thattungal of the Varapuzha disctrict in Kochi, met the 26-year old unmarried woman on a pilgrimage and adopted her, saying she had extraordinary spiritual powers and that the relationship had given him a "spiritual renewal."

Thattungal's move created uproar in the regional media in Kerala, which recently celebrated India's first woman saint Alphonsa, who also hailed from the state.

"There is an instruction from the Apostolic Nuncio that I should form a three-member Bishops committee who have to prepare a detailed report on the issue related to the Bishop (John Thattungal) in a proper manner after thoroughly studying it. Through Nuncio, the report should be given to the Vatican. These are the directions received in two documents - one in Latin and another one in English," said Daniel Acharuparambil, Archbishop of Varapuzha Archdioceses.

The Vatican conducted an inquiry after a section of the Kochi clergy complained against Thattungal, saying his action was "morally and ecclesiastically wrong."

Priests were permitted to marry in the first millennium of the Church's history before the celibacy rule was adopted at the start of the second millennium.

Thattungal offered to withdraw the adoption if the Vatican held it improper, but the Kochi clergy maintained its demand for his removal.

Although Thattungal loses the title of Bishop and many responsibilities, he will continue to celebrate Mass and perform other functions for the time being. He will also go to Rome to explain his stand to the Congregation of Bishops.

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