Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thalassery Archdiocese defrocks priest who marries Hindu woman in God temple


By Matters India Reporter

Tellicherry, June 28, 2022: A Syro-Malabar archdiocese in Kerala has defrocked a priest who reportedly married a Hindu woman after allegedly converting to Hinduism.

A June 28 “declaration” from the Tellicherry archdiocese says Father Mathew Mullappally had informed Archbishop Joseph Pamplany his “definite and non-retractable” personal decision to leave priesthood and return to secular life.

The priest has then requested for dispensation from “all his clerical obligations and consequently of clerical rights as well,” says the declaration signed by Archbishop Pamplany and archdiocesan chancellor Father Joseph Muttathukunnel.

“Until otherwise provided, his priestly faculties remain suspended and therefore, he has no permission to exercise any of those faculties either inside or outside the Archieparchy of Thalassery (Tellicherry),” it further says.

Father Mullappally, who is in his 40s, converted to Hinduism and married the mother of two daughters according to the rituals of his new religion, reports Marunadan Malayali, an online news portal in Malayalam language.

The archdiocese acted against Mullappally after photographs his marriage went viral on social media platforms.

The former priest served the archdiocese for more than two decades, however, was not exercising his priestly power in public since 2020 after getting embroiled in a sex scandal when he was the parish priest of St Joseph’s Parish, Pottenplavu.

A diocesan official who did not want to be identified expressed deep shock over the developments and said, “Such acts obviously create scandal for the Church.

Mullappally approached the archbishop two months back and sought for his dispensation.

The former priest left Pottenplavu after a voice clip of his telephonic conversation with a parishioner went viral.

Benny Jacob, a parishioner of Pottenplavu, says Mullappally had called him on June 26 seeking financial help. “He said he was dependent on his young brothers after the archdiocese asked him to leave priesthood,” Jacob told Matters India.

Mullappally denied when asked about the marriage. “However, he said marriage was the only option left for him now,” Jacob added.

Mullappally, however, refused to answer phone after the news about his marriage became public.

After leaving Pottenplavu Mullappally was sent to Virajpet, a town in neighboring state Karnataka where the archdiocese has a property.

Catholic priest suspended in India after marrying in Hindu temple

Archbishop Joseph Pamplany was praised on social media for his prompt action.

By UCA News reporter Published: June 29, 2022 

A Catholic priest has been suspended in southern India after he reportedly married a Hindu woman following her temple rituals.

Officials of Tellicherry Archdiocese in Kerala state announced the withdrawal of the priestly faculties of Father Mathew Mullapally on June 28, soon after pictures of the newly married couple flooded social media.

Mullapally has informed the archdiocese of his “definitive and non-retractable decision for personal reasons to leave the priesthood and to return to secular life,” said the letter, jointly signed by Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry and his chancellor Father Joseph Muttathukunnel.

Father Mullapally was suspended from public ministry in Kerala two years ago following a sex scandal

The letter made no reference to the marriage but said Mullapally informed the archbishop of his “desire to get dispensation from all his clerical obligations and consequently of clerical rights as well.”

The archbishop after “mature consideration and due consultations has suspended him from the exercise of all his priestly faculties with immediate effect” as per canon laws, the letter said.

Mullapally “has no more permission to exercise any of those faculties either inside or outside” the archdiocese, the letter said.

The archdiocese could not confirm if Mullapally converted to Hinduism or was just following Hindu religious rituals for the purpose of marriage

Father Muttathukunnel told UCA News on June 29 that the priestly faculties of Mullapally have been withdrawn “as part of the laid-down policy of the Catholic Church.”

“The process for his dispensation from the priesthood was under process as he himself had sought it," he said, adding that the archdiocese has completed its part in the dispensation process and has sent the documents to Rome for final approval.

The archdiocese could not confirm if Mullapally converted to Hinduism or was just following Hindu religious rituals for the purpose of marriage. The woman he married, according to media reports, is the mother of two girls.

Father Muttathukunnel also said “the Catholic Church has zero tolerance toward such acts" that are "always a scandal for the Church.”

Mullapally, a popular retreat preacher, was restrained from publicly exercising his priestly faculties in 2020 after being involved in a sex scandal.

Social media comments show that people sought his prayers and blessings, believing they worked wonders for them, and Catholics from neighboring parishes also flocked to attend his services.

Other commenters lauded the archbishop for taking prompt action.

Kerala sex scandal: Catholic Church removes two priests on charges of sexually abusing a woman

By Matters India Reporter 

Tellicherry, June 15, 2020: The Archdiocese of Tellicherry in Kerala has suspended two priests after social media and online papers published audio clips of their debauchery.

Fathers Joseph Poothottal and Mathew Mullappallil have been debarred from exercising their priestly duties amid serious allegations against them, says an explanatory note the archdiocese’s Public Relations Officer released on June 14.

Father Mullappallil was appointed the parish priest of St Joseph’s Church of Pottenplavu, a parish in Kannur district, in May 2019. After the scandal broke out, the archdiocese transferred him to a parish in Kasargod district with effect from June 27. He disappeared from Pottenplavu after the audio was leaked out.

Father Poothottal, a member of the Congregation of St John the Baptist Precursor, served the Pottenplavu parish three years just before Fr Mullapally. He is the current pastor of St Augustine’s Church Rajagiri in Kannur district. He too was transferred following the audio leak.

In both audio clips, the two priests separately narrate to a parishioner, Paul Ambatt, their sexual dalliance with a married woman of the parish. Ambatt, who is in his 50s, is heard coaxing the priests to confess their sexual activities for their own good. He also promises the priests that he would bring them no harm. In some places, he warns the priests that he has videotapes of their activities that he has given for safe custody.

The archdiocesan press note says the Church had removed Father Mullappallil from priestly duties as soon as his audio became public. “The archdiocese has appointed an enquiry commission to look into the allegations against Father Mullappallil the same time the audio came out,” it adds.

The press note also says the archdiocese has asked Father Poothottal’s congregation’s to take necessary disciplinary actions against him.

The archdiocese also asks pardon from its people for the scandals involving priests, who it says should set examples of moral living.

At the same time, the press note alleges that some vested interests use the scandals to target the archdiocese even after it acted with alacrity against the erring priests. “The archdiocese has taken necessary steps to bring out the truth,” the press note says.

Meanwhile, the parishioners of Pottenplavu expressed shock and dismay over the scandals.

“We are sad to hear about Father Mullappallil who had done so much for the parish spiritually and socially,” says John Thoppil, a former parish accountant who has worked with many parishioners since 1980s.

According to him, the 50-year-old priest had won the confidence of the entire parish within two months of his arrival. He started special devotions on Good Fridays and conducted novenas that drew hundreds of people from even neighboring parishes. He had conducted daily Masses during the lockdown placing the pictures of each family on pews, saying he wanted to keep his people close to his heart when at the altar.

“We never knew he had another face,” he added.

Thoppil questions Ambatt’s integrity. “He is extortionist, who honey traps priests,” he told Matters India June 15.

At the same time, Thoppil is happy that such scandals come to light. “The Church needs purification. It has become too corrupt and scandalous,” he added.

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