Bishop Thattunkal found at house of ‘adopted daughter’

via PNS | Pathanamthitta published on March 30, 2009



Controversial
Catholic bishop John Thattunkal, who was removed in October last from
his official duties as Bishop of Kochi following his adoption of a
mature woman and performance of exorcism on the Bishop’s Palace using
her blood, is again fallen into further trouble with his stay at the
house of the “adopted daughter”.

The Vatican had ordered his
removal from holy rites after the adoption and exorcism became a huge
controversy as the Canon Laws of Rome did not have any provision for
adoption by priests. Even then, certain outfits of believers had
pointed out that way a Bishop could keep a mature woman with him was to
conduct a “secret marriage”, and his present stay at the woman’s place
justified this argument, said an influential priest under Kochi diocese.

The
priest was spotted on Sunday at the house of Fr CK Joseph, a priest of
the Orthodox Church, whose adopted daughter this mature woman was, at
Makkamkunnu in Pathanamthitta town. Even when mediapersons arrived at
the place with the information, the neighbours had no idea of the
former Kochi bishop living in that house. The camera crew of a
television news channel spotted the bishop and the woman sitting
together on the balcony of the house. The cleric was in ordinary dress
and not cassock.

Clergy at the Archdiocese of Varappuzha, Kochi,
under which he had been serving as bishop, said this was a shock to
them as Thattunkal had informed them while surrendering his position as
bishop following the controversy that he would be leaving for
Bangalore. It was said that he had never gone to Bangalore and could
have been frequenting the house of his “adopted daughter” ever since
his removal as Kochi bishop.

When mediapersons and local
residents tried to enter the fortified house, Fr Joseph tried to
prevent them saying Thattunkal was not inside. Though the mediapersons
were prepared to cooperate with the Orthodox church priest, the local
residents persisted in their demand which necessitated the arrival of
the police.

Despite protests from the Orthodox priest, the
police searched the house and found bishop Thattunkal hiding in a room.
The police left the place after they were convinced that there was
nothing for them to do but the local residents continued their protest
saying such practices could not be allowed there. The family of Fr
Joseph, against whom the Thumbamon diocese of the Orthodox Church had
taken disciplinary action twice in connection with the relationship
with the “adopted daughter”, had been living in total isolation from
neighbours.

He told mediapersons that he had been staying at the house for the past one month
and
would be continuing to stay there one week more before leaving for
Rome, to where he had been called. He said envoy of The Vatican for
India, Pedro Lopez Quintana was in the know of his whereabouts.

Thattunkal
said he had to take shelter in the house as he had nowhere else to go.
Though he had tried to stay in the facilities of the church after being
removed as bishop, he had to leave all those places. Information was
that he had stayed at different places and had come to Pathanamthitta
from his ancestral house in Ezhupunna, Alappuzha district.

Thattunkal
became the central character in a controversy after he announced that
he had adopted Sonia, 26, after identifying “certain spiritual
qualities” in her. He had also done some consecration rites using this
woman’s blood on the Bishop’s Palace in Kochi, which was a blasphemous
act of exorcism as far as the Catholic Church was concerned.

The
Varappuzha Archdiocese of the church came under pressure from majority
of the parish priests who protested against the adoption and act of
exorcism. Archbishop Daniel Acharuparampil contacted Pedro Lopez
Quintana and took up the issue with The Vatican. Rome acted by
constituting a three-priest panel to look into the matter, which found
Thattunkal guilty, following which he was removed from his position on
October 23 last.

Reports had said that Thattunkal had come
across the woman (who, according to a version was actually well into
her late 30s) during a pilgrimage through Europe. Those who had
travelled with them in that trip had said that Sonia had been trying to
be near Thattunkal at all occasions. Fr Joseph had adopted Sonia,
hailing from Konni in Pathanamthitta district, when she was three years
old.

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