Controversial Kerala bishop ready to withdraw adoption

October 20th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Oct 20 (IANS) A Catholic bishop in Kerala, caught in a row for adopting a woman, in a written letter circulated Monday among the priests said he was willing to withdraw from the adoption if the church decides that he had erred.Kochi bishop John Thattumkal, 58, came under a lot of flak after he told the priests from his diocese that he had adopted the woman, from a non-Catholic Christian family in Pathanamthitta district, as a measure of spiritual renewal.

He is reported to have met the woman during a pilgrimage to Europe last April.

“I know my deeds has caused confusion and concern among the laity and also among the priests. If the church higher ups ask me to withdraw from the adoption, I am prepared to do so,” reads the letter written by the bishop.

Though Catholic priests here believe the action of the bishop is a violation of the church law and has no precedence, Thattumkal justified his move arguing that there had been instances where priests and bishops had adopted children.

Earlier, speaking to Mathrubhoomi newspaper, Thattumkal said: “I have only filial love towards the spiritually gifted girl. She has never been allowed to live in the bishop’s house. She had only stayed with her father at the guest house near the bishop’s house. She had occasionally accompanied me in my car for the holy mass and other religious celebrations.”

The woman, in her 30s, was earlier looked after by C.K. Joseph, a priest of the Thumpamon diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Pathanamthitta district.

Following complaints against Joseph, an inquiry was launched and it was found that he had violated church discipline. He was later stripped from the duties of a parish vicar.

Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) spokesperson Stephen Alathara said the archbishop and the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana were aware of the controversy and had submitted their reports to the Vatican.

Action against the bishop, if any, would be initiated based on these reports.

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