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Cardinal George Alencherry must resign, or Pope Francis must ask him to resign. Laity movement

The Vatican faces harsh criticism against the double standards on ethics and morality for India

By Wimal MaryDas/ Freelance Journalist, USA

High Court of Kerala Judgment/ Photo Credit/ Public domain

Cardinal Alencherry must resign from the leadership of Syro Malabar Church as the High court of Kerala ruled that Cardinal must face trial in the land deal scandal.

The High Court of Kerla upheld a ruling by the lower courts that Cardinal must face the trial. The Magistrate Court had taken eight civil cases against Alencherry and others and issued summons to him. The Ernakulam District court had also rejected the plea earlier to quash these cases.

The apex court of Indian Judiciary observed that “ prima facie it is a case of impropriety in the land dealings.” The investigation into the land dealings of the Church had discovered that the sale prices shown in the sale deeds in the alleged land fraud were far down than the fair market price of the real estate value of the country. The Kerala High Court ordered to book Cardinal Alencherry and others as evidence exists for criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, and misappropriation of money in the land deals. The Highcourt of Kerala expressed severe concern about the police for not registering a case against Cardinal as there was critical information prevailed to book him. It alludes to the abuse of authority and power of Cardinal’s office in Kerala, India.

Cardinal Alenchery faces 16 civil cases in land dealings. The alleged land deals were reviewed by different commissions, including ecclesiastical and civil officials who found conspiracy behind the land sale. KPMG, an international financial auditing firm exposed flagrant violations and abuse of power of Cardinal to amass wealth in his name. Cardinal asked the suspicious dealer to invest a massive amount of wealth as a share market investment in his name.

The Vatican faces harsh criticism against the double standards on ethics and morality for India

In the similar case of Cardinal Bicciu and the land scandal, the Vatican has had a different approach to deal the same issue. Cardinal Angelo Beccicu, a powerful Cardinal in the Vatican hierarchy, was forced to resign in connection with a real estate investment in London. Later, he was indicted by a Vatican Tribunal on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion, and fraud. The Vatican demonstrated its high moral values through this decision. It was a great and powerful message for Catholic folk. It was made very clear, however powerful you are or you were, you would be held accountable for your actions. The decision by Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Beccicu and to refer the matter to a Tribunal was hailed by everyone. One commentator noted, “the very fact the Pope was ready to sanction the indictment and trial of a cardinal who was not only a senior member of the Vatican hierarchy, but also by his own account a friend of Francis, signals again his clear intention that when it comes to financial wrongdoing, he's prepared to take unprecedented action to clean up the Church's reputation.”

But in a similar real estate scandal involving the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alenchery, Vatican had a different standard to apply. As Cardinal Alenchery was the head of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese in Kerala, India by virtue of his position as the Major Archbishop, he was involved in land dealings that resulted in multi-million dollar losses to the Archdiocese. An investigation by a reputed international auditing firm constituted under Vatican’s direction, found many irregularities in the land deal. It was found that canonical bodies were not consulted and there were violations of not only Canon law but also the secular laws of the land. The Income Tax Department in India under the federal government investigated these deals and imposed heavy fines on the Archdiocese. One would have expected the Vatican to apply the same standards that was applied in Cardinal Beccicu’s case. One would have thought that Cardinal Alenchery would have been asked to resign and make reparations for the loss. But the Vatican has allowed the continuation of Cardinal Alenchery as the Major Archbishop is contradictory. The Western colonial mindset in matters of applying moral standards is not judicial for papal office but undoubtedly scandalous. It is not acceptable for India and the Indian Republic.

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