Catholic church in Kerala forbids priest from performing sacred duties, receiving holy communion

Catholic church in Kerala forbids priest from performing sacred duties, receiving holy communion

Kozhikode (Ker), Nov 24 (PTI) The Catholic church in Kerala has prohibited a priest, currently facing investigation for alleged violation of his order's disciplinary norms, from performing sacred duties and receiving holy communion until the conclusion of the trial by an ecclesiastical court recently established for this purpose.

The Thamarassery diocese of the Syro Malabar Church has imposed stringent restrictions on Fr Thomas 'Aji' Puthiyaparambil, a month after initiating a Collegiate Tribunal to address charges of breaching ecclesiastical norms.

These measures include barring him from overnight stays anywhere other than the Diocesan Priests' residence without permission and restricting his ability to write and publish through mass media.

Crying foul, Father Puthiyaparambil claimed that the decree was an attempt to religiously and socially 'ostracise' him.

In his recent directive, Bishop Remigiose Inchananiyil of the diocese stated that the imposed prohibitions and restrictions aim to prevent scandal within the Eparchy of Thamarassery and beyond, arising from the priest's refusal to comply with the bishop's orders and reside in the specified residence within the territory of Thamarassery.

Until the conclusion of the penal trial, Puthiyaparambil is permitted to celebrate the Divine Eucharist exclusively in the private chapel of the Diocesan Priests' Home, as per the order.

The directive explicitly states that he is 'prohibited from exercising sacred orders, including the celebration of the Divine Eucharist and other sacraments and sacramentals, in any Catholic churches or chapels, or administering them to any Catholics until the conclusion of his penal trial.' Furthermore, if he participates in a Divine Eucharist celebration, he is not only barred from con-celebrating but also from receiving Holy Communion, according to the directive.

In the order, the bishop additionally stated that the priest is not allowed to reside overnight in any other place without explicit permission from the Director of the Priests' Home.

For visits to his parental home, no permission is required. However, Puthiyaparambil must inform the director about his travel. All other travel requires permission from the relevant authorities, it said.

According to the bishop's decree, while staying at the Diocesan Priests' Home in Marikunnu, he will receive free food and accommodation and is expected to participate in the community prayers.

The decree also prohibits the priest from writing and publishing anything through mass media channels.

'Until his case is definitively decided, he is forbidden from participating in any events, conducting such events, and delivering speeches in public meetings.' It emphasised that any violation of these prohibitions will result in canonical penalties without further warning.

Reacting to the decree, Puthiyaparambil said, 'First, they set up a Collegiate Tribunal for my trial. Now, they are trying to ostracise is like keeping me under house arrest. It may be a move to scare me.' Talking to PTI, he mentioned that the trial by the church tribunal had not yet begun because he had not appeared before the panel.

Asked if he plans to fight it legally, the priest said that a legal battle is not his aim. 'My fight is against the decadence and degradation the church is facing,' Puthiyaparambil said.

Last month, the Thamarassery bishop appointed a Collegiate Tribunal to initiate a penal judicial process to investigate alleged offences by Puthiyaparambil.

In the order, the bishop had stated that the Tribunal aimed to address the 'damages and scandal' caused by the priest's acts of 'disobedience and anti-ecclesial activities, violating the disciplinary norms of the Church.' The bishop alleged in the order that, although Puthiyaparambil was appointed as vicar of a local church, he did not accept the appointment and suddenly left after publishing a note on social media.

This was deemed 'grave disobedience,' causing 'irreparable damage and public scandal.' PTI LGK ROH

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