Friday, October 24, 2008

Taking "Fatherhood" Too Far

In one of the, er, more unique stories to hit the wires of late, an Indian bishop found himself in hot water at home last month after adopting an unmarried 26 year-old woman who, he said publicly, had led him to "spiritual enlightenment" and provided the catalyst for his "renewal."

This morning, after a preliminary investigation, Bishop John Thattungal's suspension was announced:
"The bishop has been stripped of the administrative and religious responsibilities of the [Kochi] diocese, pending a probe into the charges as per a Papal decree," said Father Stephen Althara, a spokesman for the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council.

The Vatican conducted an inquiry after a section of the Kochi clergy complained against Thattungal, saying his action was "morally and ecclesiastically wrong."

Priests were permitted to marry in the first millennium of the Church's history before the celibacy rule was adopted at the start of the second millennium.

Thattungal offered to withdraw the adoption if the Vatican held it improper, but the Kochi clergy maintained its demand for his removal.

Although Thattungal loses the title of bishop and many responsibilities, he will continue to celebrate Mass and perform other functions for the time being, Althara said.

He will also go to Rome to explain his stand to the Congregation of Bishops.