DESPITE THE family of a Catholic priest murdered on Easter Day in 2013 at a prominent seminary here seeking suspension of four priests recently named as accused in the murder case, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has decided to put the onus of action against the priests on the judicial system rather than intervening.
Last month the family of Fr K J Thomas, who was killed on Easter night at the Vatican linked St Peters Pontifical Seminary, had written to the CBCI seeking suspension of four priests — Fr Anbu John, Fr A Thomas, Fr C Selvaraj and Fr I Anthappa — who continued to be in the church despite being accused of murder in a November 24, 2015 police chargesheet.
At the conclusion of the 32nd plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India here on Wednesday, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis said the church had left it to the judicial system to find the culprits and to punish them. “The church will not interfere in the judicial system. We respect the judicial system. Let them find the culprits and punish them with adequate measures,” Cardinal Cleemis said when asked about the CBCI’s response to the letter from the family of Fr Thomas.
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“We have not discussed this incident but it has been discussed in the Karnataka Bishops’ council,” he said. “We also have an obligation towards the priest who is killed and his sorrowing family members. We should assure the family as well. We leave it to the judicial system to decide what is the symbol of justice needed for everyone.”
In a February 22, 2016 letter to the CBCI K J Mathew the brother of Fr Thomas had questioned the “continuance of these accused priests in active ministry” and had called for removing them.
Six Catholic priests and six others, including a woman, have been named as accused in the murder of Fr K J Thomas, 65, the Rector of the St Peters Pontifical Seminary, a prominent Vatican linked Catholic seminary.
According to the Bengaluru Police, the murder was the fallout of ethnic strife between a local Kannada-speaking group on one side and other groups on the other side. A second motive in the case is indicated to be the struggle by some of the accused to gain control of the 24 acre prime property on which the seminary is located.