Police forcibly hospitalize fasting priest

December 8, 2011 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

ProtestKerala, December 8, 2011: Police in Kerala last evening arrested and forcibly hospitalized a Catholic priest who was on a hunger strike to protest an archdiocese’s takeover of a parish.

Swami Sadanand, formerly known as Fr. Michael Puranattukara, began his indefinite fast on December 1 at a monastery managed by his Carmelite of Mary Immaculate (CMI) congregation at Thalore near Thrissur in Kerala.

The arrest took place after the 67-year-old priest shifted his protest venue to the Archbishop’s House in Thrissur, Kerala’s cultural capital.

Earlier, his associate had pointed out to ucanews.com that the saffron-robbed priest’s condition had deteriorated as his hunger strike entered the seventh day.

The police shifted him to the Government Medical College Hospital where his condition is reported to be stable.

The Town East police also arrested 55 members of the Infant Jesus Monastery Parish Protection Council, but released them later.

Father Sadanand, who manages a Catholic ashram in Madhya Pradesh, central India, resorted to hunger strike after his attempts to resolve the Thalore parish controversy that began two years ago.

The CMI priests had managed the parish since it was set up in 1977. However, Trichur Syro-Malabar archdiocese took over the parish two years ago following some trouble among a section of parishioners and the priests.

The takeover upset another group of parishioners who formed the parish protection council.

Swami Sadanand tried to negotiate between the archdiocesan authorities and the council as he hails from neighboring Ollur parish.

The council wants the archdiocese to restore the parish administration to the CMI congregation.

It maintains that the archdiocese took over the administration from the CMI congregation, allegedly violating the initial agreement between the late Archbishop Joseph Kundukulam, the then CMI provincial, and pastors of two neighboring parishes.

Earlier on Wednesday, Auxiliary Bishop Mar Raphael Thattil and three priests met eight members of the council and asserted the archdiocese would not restore the parish to the religious congregation.

“The Archdiocese’s stand reflects the flaws in administration by Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhathu,” Porinchu Melethu, the council’s joint convener, told The Hindu newspaper.

According to him, similar problems exist in more than 30 parishes in the archdiocese.
Meanwhile the Kerala Catholic Federation has demanded the resignation of Archbishop Andrews Thazhathu of Trichur.

– thehindu / ucan

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