Corruption charges laid against the Bishop in North Kerala: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 28, 2011 p 8. January 29, 2011Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of South India, Corruption.
The Church of South India (CSI)’s synod has taken charge of the administration of the Diocese of North Kerala after its Bishop, the Rt. Rev. K P Kuruvilla failed to convene the diocesan council.
North Kerala has been the scene of heated debates between its bishop and lay leaders. In a letter to the moderator of the CSI dated Jan 21, the CSI North Kerala Diocesan Laity Fellowship accused the bishop of pocketing school funds.
They alleged that since June 2010 the bishop had collected approximately Rs. 85 million rupees (£1.2 million) “through the appointment of thirty two teachers in four of the newly sanctioned higher secondary schools” in the diocese.
At a meeting of the diocesan executive committee held on Oct 20, questions about the disposition of the funds were raise. The diocesan treasurer “admitted to have received only Rs. 15 million (£207,000). When asked about rest of the amount, bishop responded that the amount received cannot be divulged and the executive committee members [would] have to just trust him on this matter,” the complaint said.
A new diocesan council that included critics of the bishop was elected at the end of October, but the bishop did not convene the council. Critics have charged the bishop with seeking to derail the new council so as to avoid an inquiry into diocesan finances.
Under the CSI’s constitution, if a diocesan council is not convened within 90 days of its election, its administrative responsibilities pass to the synod. On Jan 24 the synod appointed an interim council that included Bishop Kuruvilla and directed that a new council be elected and installed by May.
A number of CSI dioceses have witnessed conflicts between their bishop and clergy and lay groups. In May 2010 six clergy and a lay member of the Diocese of Rayalaseema staged a protest before the diocesan offices, calling for the ouster of Bishop K.B. Yesuvaraprasad.
A lay member of the diocese, Dr. Y.S. Thomas Reddy, had distributed tracts accusing the bishop of misusing diocesan funds and called for a protest at his residence on May 25. Bishop Yesuvaraprasad requested police protection, and when the protesters arrived they were arrested for a breach of the peace when they did not disperse.
Allegations of misconduct have also been leveled against the moderator of the CSI, while a criminal investigation is underway into the finances of the Bishop in Coimbatore, the Rt. Rev. Manickam Dorai. Last year the CSI synod dissolved the diocesan council and suspended Bishop Dorai pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
Two other CSI dioceses are currently under the administrative oversight of the CSI synod. In the Diocese of Madhya Kerala the Bishop in East Kerala has been given temporary charge of the diocese following the retirement of the Rt. Rev. Thomas Samuel on Jan 24. In November the Diocesan Council nominated the Rev. Thomas Oommen and Dr. Oommen George to stand for election at the Jan 18 meeting of the diocesan synod. However, a dispute over the balloting has postponed the election pending a review by the provincial ecclesiastical court.
On Dec 25 the former moderator of the CSI, Bishop John Gladstone retired as Bishop in South Kerala. The Synod has appointed the Bishop in Kanyakumair to oversee the diocese until a new bishop is appointed.