5 member committee of Bishops constituted to study Syro-Malabar land deal issue

Kochi Jan 11: The Synod of Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church Tuesday constituted a five member committee of bishops to study the controversial land deal in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, in which the Church allegedly suffered huge financial loss.
The committee, headed by Archbishop Mathew Moolakkattu, will study the issue and find a solution to the problem, a Church spokesman said here. Bishops Jacob Manathodath, Thomas Chakyat, George Madathikandathil and Antony Kariyil are the committee members.
The committee has been authorised to hold necessary discussions and find a solution, the spokesman said. He said the Synod held 'serious discussions' on the issue of land deals in the Archdiocese.
The Synod's move came after some priests and faithful accused Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry, who is also the Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, of selling the prime land of the archdiocese here for "a very low price".
They had alleged role of land mafia in the sale of land in a "non-transparent manner" violating even civil and canon laws.
Supporters of the Cardinal had dubbed the charges against the chief priest as a 'misinformation campaign'.
All India Catholic Almaya Forum had urged the priests to stop the campaign being carried out against the Cardinal. They had alleged that a handful of priests were trying to defame the Syro-Malabar Church, having over 55 lakhs followers and 35 dioceses.
Presbyteral Council of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese had shot off a letter to the Bishops to take up the issue in the Synod.
The priests had alleged that a commission appointed by the Archbishop to enquire the land business had found that there have been serious violations of canon and civil laws.
According to the priests, the commission found that revenue from the sale of 3.06 acres of the land in the city was expected to fetch Rs 27 crore as per the understanding, but officially only Rs nine crore had been shown as sale proceeds.
They claimed that Rs 18 crore was shrouded in mystery and remained unaccounted.