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Pope expels Kerala priest convicted of rape

Pope expels Kerala priest convicted of rape
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Vatican: Adhering to a policy of 'zero tolerance' towards clergy who sexually exploit minors, Pope Francis has expelled a Kerala priest convicted of ra...

Vatican: Adhering to a policy of "zero tolerance" towards clergy who sexually exploit minors, Pope Francis has expelled a Kerala priest convicted of rape from all priestly duties and rights, according to church officials.

Syro-Malabar Church priest Robin Vadakkumchery is currently serving a jail term for impregnating a 16-year-old girl in Mananthavady diocese.

"Vadakkumchery has been dispensed from the exercise of priestly duties and rights. That means he has been reduced to the state of a layman", a Church official told PTI.

He was suspended from priestly duties soon after the news about his crime was reported in early 2017.

A POCSO court in Thalassery last year had sentenced Vadakkumchery to 20 years of Rigorous Imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 3 lakh on him.

The priest, 50, was the vicar of the local church in Kottiyur in Kannur district and manager at the school where the victim was studying. He was arrested two years ago while trying to flee to Canada.

The Vatican's action came two years after Pope Francis made it clear that all bishops should adhere to a policy of "zero tolerance" for clergy who sexually exploit children.

The Vatican has also rejected Sister Lucy Kalapura's appeal against her expulsion, after she took part in protests against the rape-accused Bishop Franco Mullackal. Her plea to present her case in person before Pope Francis and the tribunal has also been refused.

This was the second time sister Lucy had appealed to the Vatican, after she was expelled from her convent Francisian Clarist congregation (FCC) on 'disciplinary grounds' in August 2019.

"My side has not been heard, this time as well. I have received a letter from the Vatican; the covering letter says my appeal has been rejected," she said.

Lucy said the remaining contents of the letter are in Latin. "Only after getting it translated will I know the reasons behind the rejection of my appeal," she said.

Nevertheless, Lucy has decided to continue her legal fight. "I have already approached the Manathavady Musiff (Musiff Magistrate) court. I want to continue and do my duties as a nun, the convent should provide for that," she said. While filing the appeal, Lucy had alleged that the formal actions against her began after she participated in a protest, supporting the nuns of the missionaries of Jesus congregation — who were demanding justice for a nun allegedly raped by Mullackal.

Some of the reasons cited in her letter for expulsion in 2019 were willful disobedience; publishing a book without permission; getting a drivers' license​ and ​defying the laws of the congregation.

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