Kochi, India, Jul 24, 2019 / 17:00 pm
Catholic priests are reportedly protesting Pope Francis’ reinstatement of a cardinal who is facing allegations of financial mismanagement, and has been previously accused of failing to respond to reports of misconduct from a nun who claims to have been raped.
Cardinal George Alencherry heads the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in union with Rome and one of the two main Eastern Churches in India.
Alencherry has been accused of involvement in dubious land deals dating back to 2015. Alencherry reportedly bypassed Church law requiring consultations before a land sale that resulted in heavy financial losses for the Church.
After an investigation by a local commission, the Vatican in 2018 appointed a temporary administrator to lead the diocese in Alencherry's place. A Vatican letter said Cardinal Alencherry “should absolutely not be involved” in any decisions, UCA News reports.
Pope Francis reinstated Alencherry in June. At the time Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Vatican’s office for Eastern Catholic Churches, stated that Alencherry must now submit monthly financial plans to the Syro-Malabar Church’s governing body. The Syro-Malabar synod will meet in August to discuss longer-term solutions to the archdiocese’ financial situation.
The Vatican investigation’s findings have not been made public, and two auxiliary bishops who were also suspended remain suspended, the Associated Press reports.
According to the AP, about 450 priests, including 70 from outside of India, began a hunger strike and prayer vigil last week at the cardinal's diocesan headquarters, in the city of Kochi, India to protest Alencherry’s reinstatement, the continued suspension of the two auxiliary bishops and to demand information about the Vatican’s investigation.
One of the protesting priests told the AP that the hunger strike ended after priests met with members of the Syro-Malabar synod and presented their demands, and were given assurance that the demands would be put forward during an August meeting.