Updated: February 28, 2021 7:32:58 am
A Catholic layman from Kannur district was allegedly forcibly taken away from his home, paraded in front of a gang, detained for three hours at a local parsonage and made to fall at the feet of a parish trustee — all for sharing a video in which a parishioner made several allegations against his local parish priest.
The incident has triggered protests within a section of members of the Catholic Church. On Sunday, a group of reformists in the Church, under the banner of Catholic Laymen Association, planned a mass meeting in Kannur in protest against the priest and his followers.
Jilson Unnimackal alleged that he was manhandled, harassed and forced to tender a public apology by supporters of the parish priest — Fr Augustine Pandyamackal of St Thomas Church in Kannur’s Kunnoth area. A video of the incident, which took place on February 22, was uploaded on social media.
Jilson, a farmer, alleged that he was targeted because he questioned the priest’s approach towards a parishioner’s teenage son, who died of cancer. “It was on February 18 that I had shared a video in which a person named Mathew Cheruparambil was heard explaining how Fr Augustine denied the sacrament of anointing of the sick to his son, who died last month,’’ said Jilson. “People are afraid to come out against the priest fearing the Church. But I would move a police complaint against the priest and his gang.”
Mathew (58), a farmer, said his 16-year-old son had been a cancer patient for four years.
“On November 27 last year, when death looked imminent, my son wanted to confess before the priest and expressed his desire to get the sacrament of the anointing of the sick (given to a person on the death bed or a patient)… I requested the priest to come to my home and pray for him. But the priest wanted the boy to be brought to church. He was completely bed-ridden and one of his legs had been amputated due to cancer,’’ Mathew said, adding that he visited Fr Augustine several times with a request. “When the priest came 33 days after my request, my son was unconscious. As a pious boy… (he) wanted to receive Holy Communion before he slipped into a coma,’’ he said, adding that after his son’s death, the priest tried to harass him by denying post-funeral services. Mathew said he had complained to Archbishop George Njaralakatt against the priest.
When contacted, Fr Augustine refused to speak. “I was told by the police that I should not react to this issue. I don’t want to speak to the media. I have discharged all my duties and nothing else to say.”
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