Sex, sleaze and slush money: Unholy war erupts in Kerala’s Syro-Malabar Church

The Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala is caught in an unprecedented crisis after two groups of clergy – one group supporting scam-tainted Cardinal George Alencherry and the other his rivals — locked in an internecine war that threatens to split one of the most powerful religious organisations in Kerala.

The police on Monday registered a case against Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry and three others in connection with the land deal scam in an Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

Alencherry, according to his rivals, has violated both Canon and civil laws and landed the Church in financial crisis. His rivals are trying to escalate the issue of corruption in the Church to the Pope. They have already submitted a memorandum to the auxiliary bishop seeking action against the Cardinal and his supporters. The priests also took out a march to the seat of the archdiocese in Kochi on Friday to submit their memorandum to Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Edayanthrath.

Meanwhile, the two groups have been circulating ‘Pastoral Letters’ through WhatsApp to expose their rivals, which bring to the fore sleaze and debauchery of priests and nuns and the deep rot in the Church. In one such WhatsApp message, the Cardinal supporters brought out a body of “evidence” of “debauchery and corruption” of a Metran who was leading the fight against the Cardinal. The letter alleged that the Metran has been indulging in “illegitimate sex with nuns” and had stashed ill-gotten money in Swiss banks. The letter also reveals the bank details of the Metran.

The letter further alleged that although he has a separate house, he stays in Vijo Bhavan, a home for retired priests, where there are many nuns who are ready to “do anything for him”. When questions were raised about this and some nuns who had “brought bad name to the Church” were transferred, the Metran publicly insulted the priest and got him transferred.

Another allegation is that the Metran gave crores of rupees to a priest who threatened to reveal a photograph of him partying with prostitutes and semi-clad woman in a European club. He alleged to have given $10,000 to a priest who managed to get that photo. The priest has been given a prime post, alleged the letter.

Meanwhile, the priests opposed to the tainted Cardinal said they will not settle for anything less than Alencherry stepping aside till his name is cleared through the investigation ordered by the Kerala High Court last week.