A Catholic priest from a northern Indian diocese has been suspended after allegedly physically assaulting the diocese’s bishop. 

Bishop Pius Thomas D’Souza of Ajmer says he was attacked last week by local priest Father Varghese Palappallil, who is facing a sexual abuse case that is currently pending in Rome.

According to Matters India, the bishop says he was finishing lunch at his residence on March 7 when Palappallil sat next to him and immediately began to argue about the abuse case, which involves allegations from a married woman. 

“I explained to him that I have nothing to do with the case as it is pending in Rome, being dealt with according to the procedure of Canon Law and I am not against him,” D’Souza said, according to Matters India. 

The bishop says the priest then physically attacked him, hitting his face and neck, and knocking his glasses to the ground, before hitting his chest and raising a chair to strike him. He says another priest then stepped in to save him from the attack.

According to Matters India, Palappallil has denied the allegations, which he says are an attempt to discredit him for questioning the bishop. 

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“My purpose of the visit was to appeal [to] the bishop to appoint me in any official post of the diocese, as I was not given any posting since 2015 after I was accused of sexual relationship with a woman,” the priest said.

He says the bishop grew angry during their conversion and threatened him with a knife, and he responded by pushing the bishop away, which knocked off the prelate’s glasses.

“After that we continued our discussion until 3:30 p.m. and we departed happily with the bishop promising to consider my case,” the priest said.

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He called the physical assault allegations “shocking...baseless and untrue.”

In a March 10 letter, Bishop D’Souza said Fr. Palappallil was banned from “celebration of Mass, Sacraments, sacramentals and to receive Sacraments in the Church from the very moment of the physical assault.”

Palappallil says he will challenge the allegations.