Church panel finds violation of laws in land deals by

A committee of Kerala-based Syro Malabar Church which probed alleged irregularities in financial and land transactions of its Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese has said it has found numerous instances of violation of canon and civil laws and recommended necessary action against those responsible.

The six-member enquiry committee also said the head of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, "seems to have fully known and involved" in the alienation and purchase of lands by the archdiocese during April 1, 2015 to November 30, 2017.

The panel comprising priests was appointed by Alencherry, who is also the Major Archbishop of the archdiocese, after some priests and faithful accused him of having sold prime land of the archdiocese for "a very low price".

They had also alleged the role of land mafia in the sale of land in a "non-transparent manner" violating even civil and canon laws, a charge rejected by the supporters of the cardinal as a 'misinformation campaign'.

The committee, in its report accessed by media, said: "There were numerous instances of violation of canon laws and civil laws along with the lack of transparency and collegiality."

It also said the allegations about the land transactions have created a moral crisis among the members of the church and the general public.

"People who are responsible for the crisis should be tried according the law of the church and necessary action should be taken for the violation of the civil law," it said.

The report was discussed at the the Presbyterian Council chaired by the Cardinal on January 30, church sources said.

It said as the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal Alencherry should have taken utmost care in respecting the provisions of the canon law.

A particular law of Syro-Malabar Church, which was promulgated by the same Major Archbishop, had been violated by him on more than one occasion, the report said.

As it was widely discussed in the print, visual and online media, the issue has taken a colossal form, creating confusion and faith crisis, the committee said.

"People have started suspecting the credibility of the church, especially the bishops and priests. It will adversely affect the ethical stance of the church, especially such one promoted by Pope Francis.

Noting that church leaders and officials were expected to be people of utmost honesty and transparency, the report said due to the emerging crisis in the archdiocese of Ernakulam- Angamaly, people have started doubting the credibility of the ecclesiastical leadership.

The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside-in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain-serving over 5 million faithful.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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