Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor: THE 2006-2011 POLICE CASE THAT ROCKED THE CENTRE AND THE CHURCH

OCTOBER 7, 2017

 

Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor

SCANDALS AND COURT CASES – 08

THE 2006-2011 POLICE CASE THAT ROCKED THE CENTRE AND THE CHURCH

 

THE REASONS FOR OUR CONTINUING THIS SERIES** ON DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE

**The existing critiques (8 now updated) on the Divine Retreat Centre at our web site are:

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-01 –
ENNEAGRAM NEW AGE PRACTITIONER MINISTERS

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-01.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-02
BANNED
MAUREEN SWEENEY-HOLY LOVE MINISTRIES PROMOTED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-02.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-03
FALSE MYSTIC VASSULA RYDEN INVITED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-03.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-04
 USE OF THE HINDU BINDI OR TILAK MARK ON FOREHEAD

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-04.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05
 HINDU YOGA PROMOTED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-05.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05-B REBUTTAL OF FR AUGUSTINE VALLOORAN ON YOGA

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-05-B.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-07 “CRUSADERS OF JESUS WITH MARY” MINISTRY PROMOTED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-07.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-08 –
CONDEMNATION OF DRINKING ALCOHOL AND SMOKING

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-08.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-09
 AYURVEDA AND HOMOEOPATHY PROMOTED

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_ERRORS-09.doc

 

To obtain a better understanding of the present file, please read the fresh series, especially *

*DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-01 (INTRODUCTION)
30 SEPTEMBER 2017


http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-01.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-02 (FAKE PREACHER PAUL GANESH IYER EXPOSED)
1 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-02.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-03 (IN THE NAME OF GOD – FR AUGUSTINE VALLOORAN)
2 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-03.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-04 (PROMOTION OF YOGA, REIKI AND PRANIC HEALING BY THE CENTRE)
3 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-04.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-05
(PHOTOGRAPHS & IMAGES IN SUPPORT OF REPORTS SERIAL NOS. 03, 04)
3 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-05.doc

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-06
(EXAMPLE OF A CASE JUDGED IN THE SUPREME COURT, 2008)
5 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-06.pdf
DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS AND COURT CASES-07 (AN ANONYMOUS SITE EXPOSES DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE SCANDALS)
6 OCTOBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DIVINE_RETREAT_CENTRE_SCANDALS_AND_COURT_CASES-05.doc

 

 

 

RELATED VINCENTIAN CONGREGATION FILES

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 04
22/28 JUNE/2 JULY
2017 (CORRESPONDENCE RELATED TO RAPE COMMITTED BY FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC)

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_04.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 05 (PROFILE OF FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY, THE ABSCONDING RAPIST PRIEST HIDING IN ROME)

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_05.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 06
(FINAL NOTIFICATION TO THE INDIAN CHURCH) 10 JULY
2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_06.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 07 (INTIMIDATION AND BLACKMAIL OF RAPE SURVIVOR BY FR JOHN PUTHANPURACKAL VC) 10 JULY 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_07.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 09 (PROPOSED RETREAT BY RAPIST-PRIEST FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC AT ST. MICHAEL’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, SHARJAH, SEPTEMBER 2-4, 2017) 2 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_09.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 10 (RETREAT BY FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC AT ST. MICHAEL’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, SHARJAH, CANCELLED) 3 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_10.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 11 (FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC IN HIDING IN ROME CONTINUES TO CONDUCT RETREATS OVERSEAS WITH SUPPORT FROM HIS CONGREGATION) 8 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_11.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 12 (COMPLAINT AGAINST RAPIST FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC LODGED WITH NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN) 20 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_12.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 13 (BANGALORE MEETING WITH VINCENTIAN PRIESTS AND CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE IN FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC CASE) 20 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_13.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 14 (FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC IN HIDING IN ROME CONTINUES TO CONDUCT RETREATS OVERSEAS WITH SUPPORT FROM HIS CONGREGATION – 02) 27 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_14.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 15 (SOME EVIDENCE AGAINST THE CRIMINAL PRIEST FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC AND HIS ASSOCIATES) 28 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_15.doc

RAPIST PRIEST FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY-THE CATHOLIC CHURCHS GURMEET RAM RAHIM SINGH
28 AUGUST
2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPIST_PRIEST_FR_JOBY_KACHAPPILLY-THE_CATHOLIC_CHURCHS_GURMEET_RAM_RAHIM_SINGH.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 17 (VINCENTIAN PRIEST FR. SAM KOONAMPLACKIL OF LOGOS RETREAT CENTRE MOLESTS WOMEN) 30 AUGUST 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_17.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 19 (FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC IN HIDING IN ROME CONTINUES TO CONDUCT RETREATS OVERSEAS WITH SUPPORT FROM HIS CONGREGATION – 03) 14 SEPTEMBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_19.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 20 (FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC IN HIDING IN ROME CONTINUES TO CONDUCT RETREATS OVERSEAS WITH SUPPORT FROM HIS CONGREGATION – 04) 27 SEPTEMBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_20.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 21 (VEDIKA PEREIRA SPEAKS UP FOR FR. JOBY) 27 SEPTEMBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_21.doc

RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 22 (NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR WOMEN WRITES TO COMMISSIONER OF POLICE) 30 SEPTEMBER 2017

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/RAPE_AND_SEXUAL_ABUSE_BY_INDIAN_PRIESTS-CHURCH_FAILS_TO_PUNISH_GUILTY_22.doc

 

 


SOME BACKGROUND

Church Groups Suspect Gov’t Move on Asylums – Aims To Curb Faith Centers

https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2001/08/27/church-groups-suspect-govt-move-on-asylums-aims-to-curb-faith-centers&post_id=19072

New Delhi, August 27, 2001

Christian groups in India have welcomed a government plan to monitor asylums for the mentally ill, but fear that Hindu theocrats in the federal government would use it to curb the Church’s evangelical programs.

The federal health ministry’s move came in the wake of a fire tragedy at an asylum in Tamil Nadu, southern India, on Aug. 6 that killed 28 mentally challenged patients kept chained to posts and cots. Many such asylums in the state were attached to places of Muslim worship where people flocked to heal mental disability through prayer.

The All India Christian Council, an ecumenical laity organization, warned that if the plan is implemented, “even genuine evangelical camps can be monitored and harassed.” It suspects that pro-Hindu groups want to keep under surveillance Christian centers frequented by believers in faith healing.

A council statement noted Hindu militant groups’ allegation that Christian faith-healing centers such as the Divine Retreat Centre in the southern Indian state of Kerala used faith-healing sessions for conversion.

It urged the government not to deny the mentally disabled patients’ right to get relief from counseling, medication or “some other non-quack therapy.”

Condemning the move to “choke genuine evangelistic activity,” the Christian council challenged the government to regulate centers where Hindu holy men, quacks and “spurious preachers brainwash people.”

The Divine Retreat Centre’s weeklong retreat attracts some 5,000 people and its leaders see the government’s plan as “an overreaction and a hasty move.” Retreat center associate director Father Augustine Vallooran told UCA News that they support the ban on centers that exploit the mentally disabled, but opposed curbing religious and voluntary groups’ efforts to help those suffering psychiatric disorders. He noted “cruel, primitive and dangerous health conditions” in government-run centers, and urged the government to build proper infrastructure to rehabilitate the mentally challenged, “instead of looking at us as enemies.” The Vincentian priest said people of all religions flock to their center “for prayer and retreat, not for conversion” and “a dedicated team of priests who uphold Christian spiritual values” addresses their problems.

Bishop Gregory Karotemprel of Rajkot also supports checking superstitions, but views as “futile” the government plan to keep surveillance on faith.

Father Roland Fialho, director of Bombay archdiocese’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal, said the ministry of healing will continue as people will not tolerate government interference with their practice of faith.

Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Agra, secretary general of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said he worries about the government move, but said “it will not dissuade the Church from practicing our faith in healing the sick.” He said the government “will cut a sorry figure internationally” if it interfered with its people’s constitutional right to practice their religions.

Bishop Karotemprel said he finds “Hindu faith healing centers worse as some of them practice even human sacrifice.” In the past three years, Rajkot witnessed four human sacrifices to appease gods and to seek prosperity. “But none of the culprits or the victims was a psychiatric patient,” he added.

Jesuit Father John Chrysostom of Patna, eastern India, noted that “healing through faith in the mercy and miracles of the Supreme Father has been an integral part” of most religions. His confrere Father George Karamayil, who heads Patna arch-diocese’s charismatic renewal team, claimed that their programs have helped reconcile families and lessen drug addiction.

Bishop Victor Henry Thakur of Bettiah said that Church centers provide an alternative when medical sciences fail and that even medical experts have accepted that psycho-somatic illnesses can get healed through prayer.

Father K.T. Mathew, a Jesuit in Gujarat, western India, said most faith-healing centers are “fake” and exploit people’s sentiments for money, and Archbishop Marianus Arokiasamy of Madurai, southern India, said religious leaders must educate people to seek medical care for the mentally challenged.

 

Retreat groups ‘sell’ spirituality through ads

www.ucanews.com/2002/07/09/retreat-groups-sell-spirituality-through-ads/

Kochi, India, July 9,
2002

Jesus appears nowadays in southern India among film stars and with women wearing gold, on billboards and in newspaper ads, but not everyone is buying the new strategies for marketing “spirituality.” “Let the light of purity radiate in your mind and body,” says the caption of a newspaper ad that portrays Jesus Christ on the right and a woman wearing a gold necklace on the left. The advertisement sponsored by a jewelry firm promotes a Bible retreat by the Vincentian-managed Divine Retreat Center, the biggest charismatic group in Kerala state, a Christian stronghold.

Several other groups in the state are also vying to attract people to their retreat facilities through print and TV ads, posters, pamphlets and booklets.

Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson for the Syro-Malabar Church, one of the two Oriental Catholic rites in India, told UCA News, “Spiritual organizations using business means to spread the word of God is not a good trend at all.” Charismatic retreat centers are “not commodity sellers,” he said, and spirituality ought “not to be sold like other goods.”

Daily, though, new billboards in market places and new posters on electricity and telephone poles invite people to retreats in Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital, and other cities.

“Rest awhile with Jesus. Attend our annual charismatic retreat,” says a poster from the Messengers of Jesus, a renewal group affiliated with the Infant Jesus Church in the city.

“Live with Jesus. He rescues you from sins and takes you to heaven,” announces a poster displayed on busy Market Road.

Rather than being inspired by the ads, though, Mathew Varghese, a Catholic, wrote in a letter to “The Malayala Manorama” newspaper that such marketing techniques “are killing the basic Catholic faith.”

Babu Chacko, writing in “Sathyadeepam” (light of truth), run by the Syro-Malabar Church and edited by Father Thelakat, laments that it is “sad” to see Christ in posters “along with the local film stars.” Sometimes cows and buffalo eat away these posters, he added.

Father Thelakat sees a “terrible danger” in spiritual leaders becoming “commodity sellers” and in “spirituality degenerating into materialism. “It is unfortunate, he told UCA News July 2, that many charismatic groups do not deal with socio-economic evils but indulge in “dishing out publicity materials to attract people for spiritual conventions.”

Joseph Kurien, a retired bank manager, says the real problem lies in “tough competition” among retreat centers, which then seek “ways of using marketing devices to get people.”

However, Vincentian Father Augustine Vallooran, associate director of the Divine Retreat Center, maintains that their advertisements are meant “not to lure people but to inform them about the events.” “You understand that the newspapers do not give information free of cost. Hence I do not think that the sponsorship from the generous persons is a bad idea,” Father Vallooran told UCA News in June.

He said his center attracts some 10,000 people for its weeklong programs. “Genuine” retreat centers such as his, operating with the bishops’ permission, have “considerably increased” the faith of the people, he said.

These centers have brought many good results, the priest added, citing among them increased participation in liturgical and sacramental life, more family prayer and better discipline in Catholic educational institutions.

According to Shalom, a Catholic charismatic group, Kerala has nearly 55 major charismatic renewal centers catering to some 6 million Christians among the state’s 30 million people.

George Joshua, a “Pentecost” retreat preacher, said he finds no harm in advertisements and publicity campaigns to announce their programs. Joshua told UCA News June 26 that the ads just inform people and “it is wrong to describe our efforts as commercial.” He said opposition to the charismatic conventions should be seen in the light of the ban on some groups by Church officials.

In 2001, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council banned two charismatic groups that they said used misplaced Catholic beliefs and theological positions.

Meanwhile, some right-wing Hindu leaders have urged the government to take action against Christian faith-healing centers, which they accuse of trying to convert people of other faiths. One of the leaders, V.K. Prabhakaran, told UCA News June 28, “We know for sure that many Hindus have been converted to Christianity through these charismatic groups. We have to stop them from spreading their superstitious religious means to other communities.”

 

 

Kerala Wants Faith-Healing Centers to Register and Use Modern Medicine

http://www.ucanews.com/search/show.php?q=yoga&page=archives/english/2003/08/w5/tue/IB4621RA.txt

Kochi, India, August 26, 2003

The government of a southern India state wants the growing number of faith healing centers of various religions to register and to supplement their spiritual healing with modern medicine.

The Kerala state government has already called on some faith healing and retreat centers to register with its health ministry, purportedly to help them integrate modern medicine with spirituality. Church and religious leaders welcome the move but caution against state interference in the functioning of the centers, which they say are meant to better people’s spiritual condition.

P. Sankaran, Kerala’s Health Minister, told UCA News on Aug. 20 that the past decade has seen the mushrooming of spiritual and faith-healing retreat centers in the state, many claiming to heal mostly mental diseases.

Sankaran said the centers “belong to Christian, Hindus and Muslims communities, but the government does not have any statistics on them and on their systems.” He added that his government nonetheless wants to work with the centers. A team of doctors and experts from the state’s Mental Health Authority (MHA), which coordinates various mental health initiatives, is currently visiting some centers, he said. “Our idea,” Sankaran explained, “is to ensure availability of a psychiatrist, laboratory, referral infrastructure and other modern facilities in these centers to enable them to serve patients better.”

Notices that the MHA sent out on Aug. 5 to 36 prominent faith healing centers have solicited their views on the government’s plan to integrate modern medical systems within the spiritual centers. According to MHA Secretary Suraraj Mani, responses “have been encouraging. He told UCA News on Aug. 21 that most centers “are willing to experiment with scientific tools along with spiritual practices.” The government’s intention, Mani noted, is “to set certain specific, good standards” for the centers.

Ravi Shankaran, a Hindu who runs Bharat Yoga and Spiritual Center in Aluva (formerly Alwaye), 2,570 kilometers south of New Delhi, says he is “a little apprehensive” about the state government’s move. Shankaran told UCA News on Aug. 20 that he is skeptical about the government claim that a psychiatrist’s presence during the healing process would help a mentally ill person.

The Divine Retreat Center, managed by the Vincentian Congregation, has not received the government notice, according to Father Augustine Vallooran, its associate director. He told UCA News on Aug. 19 that more than 5,000 people attend retreats at the center every week and “most get healed.” The priest maintains that the center in Muringoor, about 2,900 kilometers south of New Delhi, does not need government-appointed medical practitioners and psychiatrists. It has separate wings to serve people with different problems — some looking for spiritual solace, others seeking liberation from drug addiction or alcoholism. “We do not mingle patients who suffer from psychiatric disorders with others,” Father Vallooran said. “We manage our institution scientifically and spiritually well.”

However, the Islamic Spiritual Movement (ISM), which gives religious and spiritual guidance to mentally depressed people, welcomes the government move to register spiritual retreat centers. Its director, Mustafa Rehman, told UCA News on Aug. 21 that this will help restrain fake spiritual healing centers and end their exploitation of people in the name of religion and spirituality.

MHA Secretary Mani observed that medicine today accepts the positive impact of religion and faith, and spirituality is part of the medical curriculum in several Western universities. However, he pointed out, “a large number of the mentally ill are reluctant to seek treatment in the mental hospitals because of the stigma attached to the illness, so spiritual retreat centers are the best places for their treatment.” He also admitted that the government lacks the infrastructure to handle increasing cases of domestic disturbances, violence, drug addiction and suicide. Government data reveal that there are 31.5 suicides per 100,000 people in Kerala, one of India’s highest rates. The national average is 10 per 100,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

The Divine Retreat Centre (DRC), Muringoor, with its other unit at Potta, near Chalakudy in Thrissur district of “God’s Own Country”, Kerala, founded by Fr Mathew Naickomparambil, is functioning since around 1983. It comes under the Ernakulam Archdiocese of the Syro Malabar Church. The DRC website says that “an average of 200,000 people” have made week-long residential retreats there annually from a choice of Malayalam, English, Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi languages, preached by the Fathers of the Vincentian Congregation. DRC, Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat center, houses “about 2000 permanent inmates… who found shelter in our Centre when they were faced with abandonment, homelessness and dire financial crisis” and “about 100 AIDS patients, about 100 aged and destitute people, 500 mentally challenged, and 300 orphan children”. The center runs St. Vincent Home for the AIDS patients. Its Shantipuram facility houses the mentally ill patients. Maria Shanthi Bhavan takes in destitute women. St Mary’s Home for Mother and Child Care serves widows and children. There is a separate de-addiction facility for substance abusers. (2006 data)

Though DRC was set up mainly for retreats, it has a 100-bed after-care home for AIDS patients, a 150-bed general hospital, a tailoring school, its own in-house press, Divine Printers and Publishers, Divine Voice and Vachanotsavam monthly magazines, a Bible College, and Divine Diary Farm, providing gainful employment to over 1,500 persons.

The Centre receives an annual grant of Rs 5,00,000 from the Central Government.

According to different news reports and the Centre’s website, 10 to 12 million people from all over India and the world, of every religious persuasion, have visited the centre popularly known as “Divine”. Apart from this, the preaching and music ministries of DRC have reached hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, and the United States.

There can be no ignoring the thousands of cases of spiritual conversions and supernatural physical healings, liberation from bondages to alcohol and narcotics, reversal of the barrenness of women and various other miraculous answers to prayers made at the Centre.

 

TIMELINE, BY MICHAEL PRABHU

2005

A woman named Mini Varghese lodged a complaint with the Koratty police station on August 31, 2005 alleging that when she was in DRC from November 2003 to June 2005, she had been raped by a priest, Fr Mathew Thadathil, attached to the centre and that she had become pregnant and given birth to a baby.

The Koratty police had registered a case in this connection and Circle Inspector K.S. Sudarshan had investigated the matter.

2006

On the 10th of March 2006, the High Court of Kerala directed the state government to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the various activities of the DRC within two weeks. The SIT was asked to file a preliminary report as to the action taken in the matter within a month from the date of the constitution of the Special Investigation Team.

Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair, acting suo motu (on his own initiative) on an anonymous letter which was accompanied by two compact discs and newspaper cuttings implicating Divine Retreat Center in a series of crimes and irregularities such as sexual harassment, forceful confinement, murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without proper license, ordered the investigation into the alleged “criminal and social activities” in DRC. The offences under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, the Foreign Exchange Management Act and scandals like rape and deaths of some persons under mysterious circumstances should be investigated, the order added.

The Justice authorized the Inspector General of Police Vinson M. Paul to head the SIT investigation probe using scientific methods such as polygraph test, brain mapping, DNA test, finger printing, etc.

The Court directed the State government to issue a notification under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act conferring power on the SIT to investigate the offences under the Act. It was ordered to also inquire into the allegations of unnatural deaths and mysterious disappearances (two women, Karyavelu and Rinu, were named in the Court directive) that have taken place there.

Mini Varghese, now an under-trial prisoner in a theft case, lodged in the Kozhikode (Calicut) district jail at the time of Justice Nair’s directive, had informed the district magistrate, Kozhikode about the 2005 case that she had filed in Koratty.

The woman also alleged that bodies of several unidentified persons were found dumped on the national highway and rail-tracks near DRC. According to her, the bodies were not that of accident victims or of people who had died natural deaths.

The centre gets millions of rupees as foreign aid and the priest who she named as her rapist had tried to misappropriate Rs 300 million received for the orphanage attached to the centre, she claimed. Hence it was necessary to investigate the role of the government officials in the running of the centre and whether any of the public servants had committed offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the judge observed.

The Kerala High Court now instructed the SIT to re-investigate the eight-month old Koratty case.

The powerful and popular vernacular (Malayalam language) media in India’s most literate (said to be almost 100%) State began to report extensively on the sensational news.

The Centre’s director, Fr George Panackal issued a statement saying that he too, like other people, had come to know of the Court’s decision and order only through the newspapers. Maintaining that Fr Mathew was “absolutely innocent”, he explained, “certain misguided people have been trying to tarnish the good name of Fr Mathew. He is a holy and devout priest with outstanding capabilities and has been serving along with me in this centre for the last seven years. Father Mathew Thadathil belongs to the Vincentian Congregation and is entrusted with the administrative responsibility in Divine Retreat Centre, solely due to his integrity. His preaching and prayers have led many to a true conversion of their hearts. In fact the Circle Inspector of Chalakudy, known for his investigative ability and impeccable character had investigated the same charge that has been raised by the media now and had arrived at the conclusion that there was no truth at all in the allegations against Fr. Mathew and that the complaint was false.”

That was only the beginning of DRC’s troubles.

Three months later, on June 15, 2006, the SIT had still not visited DRC when a Hindu retreatant committed suicide by jumping into a boiler. Inspector Sudarshan declared the man as a mentally unstable individual.

However the tax department and revenue intelligence directorate had conducted inquiries into the Center’s finances.

In August 2006, Mario Joseph, formerly Moulvi Sulaiman, a “Muslim cleric-turned-Catholic preacher” now in DRC was reportedly kidnapped from Chalakudy station.

Then, a joint team of police and health department officials searched DRC, examined documents, and quizzed DRC officials and inmates on September 30 and October 1. The 70-member police team was led by Superintendent P.C. Muhajir of the Police Crime Branch while district medical officer Doctor Rajagopal led a health-department team of six pharmacists, two physicians and two psychiatrists.

The health officials on the search team expressed concern over what they saw. They felt that the patients were not getting proper medical care at the center, and the health-care facilities at the center violated medical laws and practices. According to a police official, the search teams found that the center runs a hospital in its complex and treats patients without qualified medical professionals. The retreat center had applied for a license to run a hospital in 2001, but permission had not yet been granted. The police official said the team also detected irregularities and violations of medical ethics in the treatment of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism at the center.

Following what they called “a forcible raid”, official church machinery, led by Archbishop Jacob Thumkuzhy of Thrissur swung into action on October 3 in defense of the retreat Centre, repeating the denials of all charges that the Centre’s director Fr George Panackal had already made in the month of March. Regarding the rape-impregnation case, Fr Panackal now clarified that “a Hindu police official probed the woman’s allegations and reported them as baseless. Later the accused priest underwent a DNA test that proved the allegations as false.”

K M Mani, ex-Revenue Minister, and currently Member of Legislative Assembly for Palai Constituency and Chairman of the Kerala Congress Party, visited the Centre the same day.

Christian politicians protested the raid in the Kerala State Assembly in the State capital, Thiruvananthapuram, and K M Mani added his voice to the protest. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan gave an assurance that the functioning of the Centre would not be disturbed. 

Opposition leader and former State Chief Minister Oommen Chandy paid a visit to the centre on October 8 and heard the statements of Fr Panackal. Chandy, an Orthodox Christian, released to the media an October 10 letter in which he demanded an explanation from the government.

The Thrissur Archdiocesan Minority Rights Protection Council joined the protest. In a press note issued October 9, Father John Ayyankana, secretary of the Council, said the police raid on DRC was a blatant infringement of the fundamental and minority rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India. The policemen behaved impolitely with the women inmates of the center, as the raiding team had no women police with it, the press note alleged. The policemen rudely interrogated even the AIDS patients undergoing treatment at the DRC hospital.
					If the government attempted again to humiliate the DRC, the faithful would resist it at any cost, Father Ayyankana said.

Next, a group of twelve of the Centre’s supporters, the Divine Suvisheshamunani, led by Peter Patarmadom, the state coordinator of the fellowship, held a press conference on October 10 in Thiruvananthapuram saying that the Kerala High Court had given the Centre a clean chit but the police were still harassing its workers. He said the police acted illegally, searching even the living quarters and bathrooms of women and questioning mentally unsound people. Patarmadom reiterated Fr Panackal’s earlier public affirmation that the DNA paternity tests conducted on the accused priest proved that Mini Varghese’s allegations were baseless.

Philip Joseph, a lawyer, said police who raided the center violated norms and directives of India’s Supreme Court. Inspector General of Police Vinson M. Paul refuted their allegations as incorrect, and insisted that the case was still open.

That same day about 200 people held a prayer meeting for the center’s cause in front of the State legislature. Auxiliary Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathiose of Trivandrum Syro-Malankara archdiocese addressed the group.

The following day, October 11, saw
Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, issue a statement on the entire issue after a visit to the Centre. The statement listed and lauded all the spiritual and material ministries and services of the Centre, praising the apostolate of the Vincentian Fathers and holding “a microscopic minority” of evil people responsible for conspiring to malign the Centre. The Cardinal deplored the police investigation for “trespassing all the limits of decency and respectability.” The media projection of the investigation was “despicable”, he added. He called upon the Government and the Home Minister to urgently “correct the police excesses and to take the necessary steps not to repeat such unwarranted actions in future.”

On October 16, the Kerala High Court asked the probe team to submit the report in a sealed cover before November 17 – the day fixed by the court to make its assessment.
The following day, October 17, the entire opposition walked out of the Kerala Assembly after its demand that Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visit the DRC was turned down. Raising the issue, K M Mani said that the police violated norms in the Criminal Procedure Code, harassed AIDS patients, ill-treated the mentally ill, and held the director of the Centre under wrongful confinement. Balakrishnan denied any atrocities by the police and stated that he could not visit the Centre as the matter was subjudice, upon which the opposition stormed out.

With politicians in the state, cutting across party lines, raising a hue and cry and Fr Panackal petitioning the court to stop the inspections, Justice R. Basanth dismissed the petition and ruled that the court has the right to order inspections even if it is a place of worship or prayer.

A week later, October 23, Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C. Director – English & Other Language Retreats Divine Retreat Centre, issued a statement under the title “The Truth in the Recent Happenings at Divine”.

In it, he claimed that the Centre had “been subjected to allegations perpetuated by certain communal forces that have been regularly handing out false news and claims against us to the mass media.” Denying the allegations made in the media that there were no qualified medical personnel, the priest said that there were in fact one resident medical officer, four clinical psychiatrists, one general physician, one homeopathy doctor, two ayurvedic doctors, registered pharmacists and several qualified nurses serving at their Care Centres and Homes ensuring that medications that were prescribed to them by qualified doctors from surrounding hospitals were correctly taken. He protested the rough and insensitive behaviour of the Police Investigation team against the inmates of the Centre.

Fr Vallooran then quoted from the earlier statements of the Kerala Cardinal, the Bishop of Irinjalakuda, DRC director Fr Panackal and other Catholic leaders and activists. His letter was published in the December 2006 issue of Charisindia, the monthly magazine of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR).

DRC being a centre for retreats of charismatic spirituality, and because of the rumours and negative publicity that the charismatic renewal movement was now attracting, the Chairman of the CCR, Cyril John, issued a letter addressed to the episcopal authorities and charismatic renewal leaders on November 21 appealing for support and prayers. Enumerating the works of mercy of the institution, he expressed regret over “certain unfortunate happening and false news reports surrounding the Divine Retreat Centre”. He charged that “The police obstructed the celebration of the Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration, etc. and misbehaved with the women and the sick. The police surrounded Fr George Panackal, Director of the Centre and prevented him from getting in touch with the Provincial of the Congregation and the members of the Church hierarchy.” He deplored the raid conducted and the attitude of the police team which indicated that “it was done with the motive of maligning the good and humanitarian works being carried on by the Divine Retreat Centre. The action was an infringement of the human and minority rights and the freedom of worship.”

He too referred to “the forces of evil” and criticized the print and electronic mass media for “trying to blow up the events beyond proportion” resulting in the spread of “false reports” about the Centre.

With accusations already being hurled around that the DRC issue was being politicized, Pinarayi Vijayan, the Kerala State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – his leftist government rules the State — visited the Centre on November 20 and addressed a press conference that was extensively covered by the media, blaming the police for “crossing the limits” and praising the centre for carrying out an “exemplary humanitarian service”. Parts of his statement were interpreted in the light of the existing conflict between the State government and the judiciary which had ordered the police probe.

 

2007

Almost thirteen months after the High Court order, unable to work under constant police surveillance and questioning of its employees and volunteer force, Fr George Panackal submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of India with the argument that if there were no objective evidences against DRC, the order should be given a stay.

The Supreme Court of India admitted their petition on 30 March. As a result, the Special Investigation Team and the Kerala Government were served notices that they should file a response in four weeks.
On April 30, seven months after the search of DRC, and four weeks to the day of the DRC petition, the SIT filed a First Information Report (F.I.R.) at the Koratty police station indicting Fr George Panackal, administrator, Father Mathew Thadathil, a nun and seven other members of the staff. They were named in the FIR in order to facilitate progress of the investigation, according to the Inspector General of Police.

The charges came “under Indian Penal Code sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence.” (Sections 324 (hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 420 (cheating), and Section 82 of the Mental Health Act.)

“The team also found that during 1996-2006 as many as 900 odd ‘mysterious deaths’ took place at the centre and on many occasions bodies were disposed off without informing the police. The documents were allegedly forged to make it appear natural deaths, the FIR said, demanding a detailed probe into these deaths. The probe team found that several persons were locked in cells in the name of healing. Persons showing violent signs were often injected with unknown drugs by untrained hands. The report accused the center of running a mental hospital without a license and administering drugs without prescriptions from qualified medical professionals.

Besides the FIR filed at Koratty police station, the team also filed a report before the first class judicial magistrate. It also recommended a probe into the foreign funding of the healing centre.”

Father Panackal, in a public statement, alleged “a police vendetta against the Centre after it challenged the High Court-ordered investigation and filed a review petition in the Supreme Court”.

As soon as the SIT received the Supreme Court notice, “they had an FIR registered against Divine Retreat Centre in a great hurry – without respect to the truth or facts,” Fr Augustine Vallooran added. “This occurred exactly 8 hours after the investigation team receive the notice… at the unearthly hour of 10 p.m.”

Fr Vallooran used the DRC website to explain the “glaring faults that stand out in the allegations highlighted in the FIR.”

He explained the circumstances of the alleged suspicious death of a woman inmate, Neena Govindavan who actually succumbed due to a faulty heart valve, and recalled that the case against Fr Thadathil was filed by a convicted felon, while the DNA test results had totally established the innocence of the priest.

If the 974 deaths reported as ‘shady’ by the media had occurred at the Centre, it was not unexpected considering the lakhs of devotees, many of them very sick or terminally ill, who throng the Centre; and the relevant medico-legal records were duly filed at the local panchayat office, he added. The record of the 974 who had died in DRC was not the result of police investigation but was what the Retreat Centre had entered in its own files.

He charged that “Sensationalism on prime-time television news, radio and newspapers without verifying the truth or reporting the true facts has caused irreparable harm and pain to innocent parties and to the works of Divine Retreat Centre. There has been a very calculated move on the part of the communal forces to shut down this House of Prayer by continuously raising false allegations and instigating communal tensions.”

A joint communiqué issued by Fr George Kammatil VC, Superior, and Fr Augustine Vallooran to the Jesus Youth International Ministries once again refuted all the allegations. They further noted that it was a matter of concern that there was no effort on the part of the police to question the responsibility of the group that raised such atrocious allegations. It was when this group and their allies failed in their attempts to malign Fr Thadathil and the Centre that they had come forward in an concerted attempt with another bold and evil allegation of ‘mysterious deaths’.

A plea was submitted by the Maria Palana Society on behalf of DRC which contended that the High Court had passed their order without hearing its version. It was further contended that an FIR was registered against the officials of the centre alleging that they had committed offences under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and of the Mental Health Act. The petitioners sought stay of all further proceedings contending that a special investigating team was constituted within four hours after receiving the apex court notice and this was with an intention to defeat the purpose of the special leave petition. It was further averred that three witnesses were inimically disposed towards the petitioners and they belonged to a rival centre.

Meanwhile, the Kerala state unit of the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the closure of the Centre.

After the Centre was subjected to a surprise inspection by a joint team of police and state health department officials in September last year and “the inspection detected irregularities in the manner in which the centre was treating a large number of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism”, DRC appealed but Justice R. Basanth dismissed the petition and ruled that the court has the right to order inspections even if it is a place of worship or prayer.

The aggrieved Centre had also approached the apex court but it upheld the HC order.

 

On May 17, rejecting the plea submitted by the Maria Palana Society, the Supreme Court permitted the SIT to proceed with the investigations, but instructed that the team must consult the court before arresting anyone related to the case, in effect staying the arrest of the accused officials of DRC.

On May 18, the Supreme Court stayed the arrest of all the 10 accused in the Divine Retreat Centre case.

June 7, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) stated that they would refrain from interfering in the investigations.

At the end of their annual meeting held December 12-13, 2006, an official had announced the bishops’ plan to issue guidelines that would impact all Catholic retreat centers in Kerala within three months. The DRC welcomed this.

 

2008

February 6, 2008, the Supreme Court reserved its orders in the Divine Retreat Centre case.

One Jomon Jose sought intervention of the Apex Court to set in motion the competent authorities to regulate and prohibit the alleged irregular and illegal activities carried out at the Centre. The Bench directed the parties to file their written submissions within a week.

A month later, March 11, the
Supreme Court set aside the Kerala High Court order relating to the DRC probe by a Special Investigation Team of the state police.

March 12, the Supreme Court held that High Court judges cannot treat anonymous letters and petitions listing allegations against individuals or institutions as public interest litigation and order suo motu investigation.

In this case, the single judge of the High Court ought not to have entertained the anonymous petition, contents of which remain unverified and made it the basis for setting the law in motion against the appellant as he was not entrusted with the judicial duty of disposing of PIL matters, they opined. The DRC was delirious with joy after the ruling of the apex court.

On April 9, police formally announced the close of their probe into the activities of the Divine Retreat Centre.

 

2009

November 2009, Kerala police said that they had cracked a bible-smuggling racket that has been selling copies of the Bible, printed at the Divine Printing Press, on the black market. The collusion of DRC employees was suspected.

The following month, news broke that the Special Investigation Team which had been probing the allegations raised against the Divine Retreat Centre revealed that major irregularities were found by them in the functioning of the Centre, nearly a year after the Supreme Court quashed the SIT, therefore nullifying its findings.

One of the widely discussed incidents probed by the SIT was the disappearance of Celine Lopez, 35, of Alappuzha, from the DRCM, who was serving as a caretaker there. The case was first investigated by the Koratty Police.
“During the investigation, the SIT collected evidence sufficient enough to suspect that Celine was having physical intimacy with a person at the DRCM and got pregnant from that relationship” stated the SIT report.
Experts point out that though the SIT was quashed by the SC, there was scope for a fresh investigation into the case. Earlier, relatives of Celine had approached the court seeking a CBI enquiry into the case.
“Those who were running the DRCM were reportedly administering stupefying drugs on persons who turned violent and on those who disobeyed their instructions,” the report stated.


2010

January: The High Court of Kerala told police to restart the probe into the DRC.

Saji Raphael, the retreat center’s legal consultant, stated that the claims were the result of a conspiracy against the Centre.

On February 26, the Supreme Court intervened and ordered police to wind up all investigations against the Divine Retreat Centre. It said that investigations against the Centre are “not maintainable under law” and ordered an end to all police investigation into it, including the allegations of rape and murder.

In July, the Cyber Cell of Kerala police on Saturday arrested the Chief Editor of the highly popular CRIME magazine T P Nandakumar whose investigative reports against the Divine Retreat centre in the state had led to high-level inquiry and High Court intervention.

 

2011

In February, DRC Director Fr. George Panackal sued a Muslim businessman for defamation for alleging that he had accepted money to hush up another sex scandal (not the Fr. Mathew Thadathil one).

March 16, 2011: The Supreme Court slammed the Kerala state government for re-ordering a probe into a Catholic charismatic retreat center ordering it to scrap the probe. The lower court had acted on a petition brought by Kalarcod Venugopalan Nair. The court order meant that all charges have been dropped.

Father Panackal regretted that some groups still wanted to tarnish the center’s image despite the Supreme Court ruling.


The see-saw battle ran for five full years, 2006 to 2011. Was the Divine Retreat Centre really exonerated from all of the criminal charges? I don’t think so. There can be no smoke without a fire, the old cliché goes… and there was one helluva lot of smoke. The Church in Kerala is powerful, highly connected and wealthy. And so is the Divine Retreat Centre. The clout that they wield cannot be underestimated.

But what about the morals of the Vincentian Fathers? The Fr. Joby Kachappilly VC serial rape case clearly reveals that they haven’t any and are capable of ANYTHING. In the 2006 case, they simply got away…

*

The collated information on the following pages is arranged in chronological order

NEWS REPORTS ON DEVELOPMENTS AT THE DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE:

Court Orders Probe of Largest Catholic Retreat Center

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/1005

http://konkanicatholics.blogspot.in/2006/03/divine-retreat-centre-court-to-probe.html

https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2006/03/13/court-orders-probe-of-largest-catholic-retreat-center&post_id=27042

Thiruvananthapuram, March 13, 2006

Local Church people say they welcome a court probe into allegations against a retreat center in Kerala state.

On March 10, the Kerala High Court asked the state government to set up a special investigation team to probe allegations against the Divine Retreat Centre, considered one of the largest Catholic retreat centers in the world. Thiruvananthapuram (formerly known as Trivandrum), the Kerala capital, is 2,815 kilometers south of New Delhi.

The court acted on an anonymous letter and two compact discs it reportedly received alleging a series of crimes against the center such as murders, rape and foreign exchange violations.

Vincentian priests manage the center in Muringoor, 264 kilometers north of Thiruvananthapuram.

The court took up the case suo moto (on its own initiative) and appointed a senior police official, Vincent M. Paul, to head the probe team. Judge K. Padmanabhan Nair has asked the team to file its report within two weeks. He has also asked the government to provide support to the team.

Father George Panackal, the center’s director, says his people welcomed the court order and police probe. “The investigation can bring facts into light and help prove the allegations are baseless and motivated,” the Vincentian priest told UCA News a day after the court order.

Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, says the Church respects the court order. “Let the inquiry be done and truth come to light,” the priest said while speaking with UCA News. The center comes under his Oriental Catholic Church’s Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.

Father Panackal said there have been several attempts in the past to “defame the institution and its leadership.” He cited the case of Crime, a monthly magazine that carried several reports against the center. “We did not initiate legal action against the magazine because we preach forgiveness and believe that truth can never be suppressed,” the center’s director explained.

Father Panackal claimed that the Divine Retreat Center is the largest retreat center in the world. It has served more than 10 million people from all over the world since 1990. The center conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year.

Explaining the origin of the retreat ministry, Father Panackal said it began in 1977 at Potta, a village six kilometers north of Muringoor. The center shifted to Muringoor in 1990, after the staff found facilities at Potta inadequate for “huge crowds.” The center now has 400 professionally trained counselors to guide people attending the retreats, in addition to about 1,200 volunteers from all over India who coordinate the center’s activities.

The center also manages several subsidiary units that serve “thousands of people” in distress, Father Panackal said. “We never close our doors to anyone who seeks our help. We provide them a family environment and care,” he added.

One such unit is St. Vincent Home, which houses 87 adults and 13 children infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that usually leads to AIDS. “They experience a new life and inner healing,” the priest explained.

Another unit is Shantipuram (city of peace), which houses 450 mentally ill patients. Father Panackal said the retreat center plans to set up an institution by 2007 to cater to 2,000 mentally challenged people.

The retreat center has opened Divine De-addiction Center, which helps 150 substance abusers. Maria Shanthi Bhavan (home of peace), started in November 2004, houses 100 destitute women. Another home, started in 1990, caters to some 150 widows and abandoned wives, and 300 children.

Father Panackal said he mentioned all these activities “not to impress anybody, but to clarify our mission.” He added that he regrets the court did not hear their views before issuing the probe order.

Legal trouble for the center began eight months ago when a woman claiming to be a former employee of the retreat center told a magistrate that a priest official of the center raped and impregnated her. The woman, Mini Varghese, was been in judicial custody in a theft case when she made the complaint.

Father Panackal said a Hindu police official investigated the allegations reported them as baseless. “I told the police official that we are ready for the DNA test. But they told us that their investigations proved the complaint is a pack of lies and there is no need for DNA tests,” the priest said.

Father Panackal added that the center had not employed any Mini Varghese and that it has no priest with the name the woman mentioned. But he recalled one Mini Varghese who attending a retreat program 10 years ago. “Her father brought her and we have no knowledge about her (afterward),” he said.

Father Panackal suspects the allegations are part of a conspiracy to defame his center, a view shared by Paul Pallan, a local Christian politician.

“I have never attended the retreat at the center. But I feel the court should have given the retreat center an opportunity to hear its views,” Pallan told UCA News. He said thousands of families benefit from the center.

 

Kerala High Court Orders to Probe Activities of Potta Divine Retreat Centre, Vested Interest Suspected Behind Complaint

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/1007

http://www.cbcisite.com/cbcinews797.htm

https://www.mail-archive.com/goanet@goanet.org/msg38069.html

Kochi, Kerala, SAR News, March 14, 2006

The Kerala High Court directed the state government March 10 to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the various activities of the Divine Retreat Centre (DRC) at Muringoor in Thrissur district within two weeks.

Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair, acting suo motu on an anonymous letter, ordered an investigation into the alleged criminal and social activities in DRC. The offences under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, the Foreign Exchange Management Act and scandals like rape and deaths of some persons under mysterious circumstances should be investigated, the order added.

DRC, a venture of the Vincentian Congregation established in 1990 mainly for propagating the Word of God, has earned a pride of place among the pilgrim centres of the country, a spokesman for the centre told SAR News March 11. Over 25,00,000 devotees from various parts of India and abroad have visited the centre so far.

DRC conducts prayer services, preaching, discourses and sacraments throughout the year. Besides helping the devotees in their spiritual rejuvenation and liberation from alcohol and drug addiction, the centre also conducts healing services. Barren married women too have borne children after praying at the retreat center, the spokesman added.

Though DRC was set up mainly for spiritual enrichment and retreats, it also houses a de-addiction centre, a 100-bed after-care home for AIDS patients, St. Mary’s Home for Mother and Child Care, a 150-bed general hospital, a tailoring school, Divine Printers and Publishers, Divine Voice monthly magazine, a bible college and Divine Diary Farm.

The centre’s activities are being run smoothly with a 400-strong professionally trained counselling team to initiate spiritual awakening in the devotees, along with a 1200-member volunteer force.

IGP to head probe team

The SIT investigation will be headed by Inspector General of Police Vinson M. Paul, the judge said. Mr. Paul is presently working as managing director of Police Housing Construction Corporation, Thiruvananthapuram. The Inspector General of Police is free to select the members of his team and the Director General of Police should make their services available to the team, the court added. SIT could resort to scientific methods such as polygraph test, brain mapping, DNA test, finger printing, etc.

The team should also collect from the court the three CDs and newspaper cuttings sent to the court by the author of the letter and seek further directions if necessary. SIT should file a preliminary report as to the action taken in the matter within a month from the date of the constitution of the Special Investigation Team in this regard.

The director of the Divine Retreat Centre, Father George Panackal, was not available for comments on the court order.

 

 
 

SIT to probe allegations against Muringoor Divine Centre

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/sit-to-probe-allegations-against-muringoor-divine-centre/article3162909.ece

Kochi, March 15, 2006

The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Government to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Vinson M. Paul, Inspector General of Police who is now working as Director, Kerala Police Housing Construction Corporation, to probe into various allegations, including sexual exploitation of women against the Divine Retreat Centre at Muringoor in Thrissur district.

Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair also ordered that the SIT should inquire into the allegation of foreign exchange violations by the centre and unnatural death that took place in and around the centre during the past two years. He ordered that the team be constituted within two weeks.

The direction came on an anonymous letter complaining about criminal and anti-social activities taking place at the centre. After initiating suo motu proceedings on the basis of the letter, the court had received a complaint from a woman detained at the District Jail, Kozhikode, saying that a priest at the Divine Centre raped her. She was detained in the jail in connection with a theft in the centre. According to her, she had filed a complaint before the District and Sessions Judge, Kozhikode, regarding the rape. She said that the police were not investigating the case. She alleged that in the past two years, a number of dead bodies were found on the National Highway and the railway track near the centre. According to her, these deaths were not deaths due to accidents.

She, in her complaint, said that the bodies were buried in the public ground. The keeper of the burial ground had once objected to bringing dead bodies having injuries. He was found dead in mysterious circumstances within two months. Women coming to the centre were being sexually exploited by the priest at the centre, she alleged.

The court said that the investigation into the complaint of the woman was in cold storage. The attempt of the investigation officers was to exonerate the accused and make the complainant as accused.

The court ordered appointment of a senior officer in view of the allegations that senior IAS and IPS officers were associating with the functioning of the centre. The court also made it clear that it was open to the SIT to resort to scientific methods such as polygraph test, brain mapping and DNA finger printing. The preliminary report should be filed within one month.

People Rally around Catholic Retreat Center as Hindu Radicals press for its Closure   
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/1496

http://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2006/04/19/people-rally-around-catholic-retreat-center-as-hindu-radicals-press-for-its-closure&post_id=27251

By Jeemon Jacob, Muringoor, April 19, 2006

Thousands of people including Hindus have backed a Catholic retreat center in southern India after a Hindu front demanded its closure.   
Posters put up by right-wing Hindu organizations in various places of Kerala state accuse Divine Retreat Centre of several transgressions. The groups have also held street corner meetings to condemn the Catholic center’s alleged large-scale conversion of Hindus.   
The Vincentian Congregation manages the center at Muringoor, a village in central Kerala, about 2,900 kilometers south of New Delhi. According to its director, Father George Panackal, it is the largest retreat center in the world. It conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year, and has served more than 10 million people from all over the world since 1990.   
Hindu radicals have opposed the Catholic center since its beginning, but they stepped up their opposition after March 10, when the Kerala High Court ordered an investigation into its activities. The Hindu groups have banded under Hindu Aikya Vedi (HAV, Hindu United Front), which has the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party), the main federal opposition party.   
“We have demanded (the center’s) closure,” HAV organizing secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan told UCA News April 11. He alleged the court ordered the probe after it found prima facie evidence against the center.   
“Our investigations have revealed that the Divine center is involved in large-scale religious conversions,” Rajasekharan added. Other allegations against the center, he added, include murder and money laundering. He said his front would continue the campaign against the retreat center until it folds up.
Father Panackal says the controversies have not affected the center’s credibility. Soon after the news of the probe spread, thousands of people visited the center to offer prayers, he said. People from various religions have “pledged their support to us,” the priest told UCA News. “I feel happy about it,” he added.   
However, the HAV campaign and the court order have hurt people at the center, many of them Hindus. Santosh Kumar, who now preaches at the center, views the developments as attempts to damage the center’s reputation. “But we believe in God and his wisdom,” the 32-year-old Hindu told UCA News.   
Kumar, who moved to the center in January, said he has not “come across any illegal activity here.” He said he first came to the center in 2003 after his business suffered losses. After a weeklong retreat he decided to dedicate his life to preaching the Gospel at the center. “Though I’m a Hindu by birth, today I believe in Christ and pray every day,” said Kumar, who claims he has regained all that he had lost.
He currently runs a hair salon at the center and preaches whenever he finds time.   
Another Hindu “deeply pained by the allegations” against the Catholic center is Shyla, a woman living with HIV. She told UCA News she came to the center when she “lost all hope in life,” as nobody was willing to help her family after news spread that her husband had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which usually leads to AIDS. “But Divine Retreat Center offered us a comfortable stay and care,” continued the woman, who now lives at St. Vincent Home, which is attached to the retreat center.   
Her husband and daughter also are among the 100 people with HIV at the home. “The priests and nuns here are doing a great service. It’s unfortunate that they have become the subject of wild allegations,” Shyla said.   
Sudheer Antony, a Hindu convert to Catholicism, sees the controversy as the “handiwork” of agents of darkness. He said he came to the center “voluntarily” and became a Catholic when he experienced God there. “I want to tell others what I have experienced,” he added, explaining his reason for staying at the center. He dismissed the HAV protests as “ill-motivated campaigns” and said God will protect the center from forces that want to destroy it.   
Margaret John, 48, who lives in a house for poor people located in the center complex, said the allegations have “shocked” the people who depend on the retreat center. She said the center offered her and two daughters shelter when her mentally ill husband disappeared a year ago. She also said she has no place to go if the center is closed.

 

 

Catholic Retreat Center Unfazed Amid Suicide and Controversies

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/2206

https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2006/06/23/catholic-retreat-center-unfazed-amid-suicide-and-controversies&post_id=27540

Thiruvananthapuram, June 23, 2006

Controversies continue to hound Asia’s largest Catholic retreat center, but an official says they view the troubles as tests from God.

The latest controversy to hit the Divine Retreat Center is the suicide of a mentally disturbed Hindu man. Vincentian priests manage the facility in Muringoor, a village in the southern Indian state of Kerala, 2,900 kilometers south of New Delhi.

According to the center’s administrator, Father Mathew Thadathil, Ramaswami Kannan, 36, jumped into a boiler June 15 and suffered burns over 80 percent of his body. The center uses the boiler, measuring 1.5 meters high and 1.5 meters in diameter, to provide hot water to thousands of people attending programs. Security guards who tried to save the man were injured.

When Kannan was retrieved from the boiler he was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. He had come to the center on June 11 and expressed his desire to participate in the weekly retreat program, Father Thadathil told UCA News June 19.

A local police official, K.S. Sudarshan, told UCA News the man was mentally ill and had tried to commit suicide previously. But local newspapers and some right-wing Hindu groups highlighted the suicide as further proof of the center’s “misdeeds.”

On March 10, the Kerala High Court asked the state government to set up a special team to probe anonymous allegations against the retreat center including violent crimes and foreign exchange violations. “Three months have passed since the court ordered the probe. The investigation team has not visited the center,” Father Thadathil said.

However, the 43-year-old priest acknowledged that other agencies such as the tax department and revenue intelligence directorate have conducted inquiries into the center’s finances. “We have provided all information demanded by the governmental agencies. We have nothing to hide,” he added.

“God is testing us,” the priest said, remarking on the succession of troubles. “We have no complaints against anyone. We firmly believe that God will give us the strength to pass this ordeal.”

His confrere, Father George Panackal, who directs the center, says the controversies have not affected their retreat programs. “We are running the weekly retreats in full strength,” he told UCA News.

The center conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year. More than 10,000 people from various religions attend the programs. “We will continue to serve the needy in the manner we have done earlier,” Father Panackal asserted.

Shaju John, a Catholic living near the center, believes the controversies are part of a wider conspiracy to defame the center. He recalled the troubles started two years ago when the center dismissed the caretaker of an orphanage it manages.

“Since then, the local media have painted the center in a bad light. The priests took the matter lightly, and now they are paying for it,” John, 35, told UCA News.

The local press has published a series of negative articles about the center over the past year. Right-wing Hindu groups have led campaigns against it, accusing it of mass conversions of Hindus.

The “ill-motivated media campaigns” do not affect “our team,” Father Thadathil said. “We are servants of God. We don’t take anything personally.” Many people come to the center “as the last resort,” he continued. “We are surrounded with people who live in despair. We don’t get time to think about our problems.”

 

 

Potta’s Br. Mario Joseph (Sulaiman) Kidnapped, Back Safe

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/2962

August 21, 2006: Mario Joseph, a Muslim cleric-turned-Catholic preacher was allegedly kidnapped on Saturday on his way to preach a retreat at Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu.
The incident comes in the wake of several threats to his life from Muslim fundamentalists.
According to a source requesting for prayers for his safety, Br. Mario (formerly “Moulvi Sulaiman”) who was on his way to Nagercoil for a retreat, was kidnapped at Chalakudy railway station and was since reported missing. He was later traced in Calicut and returned in a state of shock at 2am on Monday. It is believed that he was subjected to some torture.
The staff at Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor, Kerala where the preacher stays, seemed hesitant to either confirm the story or disclose any details. “Unless we speak to him we cannot confirm anything. He is back and resting in his room”, an office staff informed.
Sulaiman, one of the youngest clerics in Islam when ordained at eighteen, came to believe and accept the divinity of Christ through deeper reflections on the writings of the “Quran”, the holy book of Muslims.
Having completed his Masters in Religion and Philosophy, and a couple of courses on the Holy Bible, he now preaches Christ in seven different languages at the Divine Retreat Center, Kerala. Besides, he also teaches Philosophy at Mary Matha Major Seminary.

 

 

Police, health officials search Asia’s largest Catholic Retreat Center

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/3540

Thiruvananthapuram, UCA News, October 2, 2006

Police and health department officials in Kerala jointly searched Divine Retreat Center for two days as part of an ongoing investigation.
Police officials said a joint team spent Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the center in the southern state of Kerala as part of a probe the Kerala High Court ordered. The court on March 10 asked the state government to set up a special team to probe allegations against the retreat center in Muringoor, a village about 2,560 kilometers south of New Delhi.
Vincentian priests manage the complex, Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat center. Also considered one of the largest centers of its kind in the world, it conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year. More than 10,000 people from various religions attend the programs, which begin Sunday evening and end Saturday morning.
The court acted on an anonymous letter and two compact discs it reportedly received implicating Divine Retreat Center in a series of crimes and irregularities such as murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without proper license.

 

A 70-member police team led by Superintendent P.C. Muhajir of the Police Crime Branch visited the center at 8 a.m. on Sept. 30 and searched it for seven hours, while district medical officer Doctor Rajagopal led a health-department team of six pharmacists, two physicians and two psychiatrists. The two groups quizzed center officials and people living there. The team returned the next day to seek detailed explanations from center authorities.
The team refused to divulge its findings. Muhajir told UCA News they would “submit a detailed report about our findings to the court” and that it was improper to divulge the details earlier than that, lest it affect “the future course of investigation.”
The inspection team checked the center’s facilities for treating drug addicts and alcoholics. They examined the drugs prescribed for patients and treatment procedures. The health officials on the search team expressed concern over what they saw. “The patients are not getting proper medical care at the center,” a health official told UCA News on condition of anonymity. According to him, the health-care facilities at the center violated medical laws and practices.
According to a police official, the search teams found that the center runs a hospital in its complex and treats patients without qualified medical professionals. The retreat center had applied for a license to run a hospital in 2001, but permission has not yet been granted. The police official said the team also detected irregularities and violations of medical ethics in the treatment of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism at the center.
The center’s director, Vincentian Father George Panackal, denied that it runs an illegal hospital. “The allegations are part of the conspiracy to defame the center and its activities,” the priest told UCA News.
He acknowledged that the retreat center manages a center for mentally challenged people and a treatment center for alcoholics with federal government recognition. Their emergency dispensary cares for some of the thousands of people who attend retreats every week, he added.
According to Father Panackal, four psychiatrists give medical care and support for the mentally challenged people at the center. Other people get round-the-clock service from a resident medical officer, the priest said.
“We are serving people who live on the margins of society,” he explained. Most people they care for have been “discarded by society,” he continued, and the center does not “close our doors to them as they have nowhere to go.”
The center runs St. Vincent Home, which serves 100 people living with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. Among them 13 are children. The retreat center also helps 150 substance abusers. Its Shantipuram (city of peace) facility houses 450 mentally ill patients. Maria Shanthi Bhavan (home of peace), started in November 2004, houses 100 destitute women. Another home, started in 1990, serves 150 widows and abandoned wives, and 300 children.
Legal trouble for the center began after a woman claiming to be one of its former employees told a magistrate that a priest at the center raped and impregnated her. The woman was in judicial custody for a theft case when she made the complaint. Father Panackal said a Hindu police official probed the woman’s allegations and reported them as baseless. Later the accused priest underwent a DNA test that proved the allegations as false.

 

 

Church flays police raid on Divine Retreat Centre
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3577

http://www.theindiancatholic.com/newsread.asp?nid=3746

Thrissur, ICNS, October 4, 2006

Church leaders in India have flayed a recent raid that police officials carried out in the Divine Retreat Centre, Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat centre functioning in the southern state of Kerala.

A team of police and health officials raided the Retreat Centre at Muringoor last week as per an order from the Kerala High Court. The court on March 10 had asked the state government to set up a special team to probe allegations against the Retreat Centre.

The court order came after it received an anonymous letter and two compact discs implicating the Divine Retreat Center in a series of crimes and irregularities such as murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without proper license.

The Vincentian priests that manage the Centre, which is Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat station, have denied the police charge saying the allegations against the Centre are aimed at maligning the good works that the Church is carrying out there.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Jacob Thumkuzhy of Thrissur flayed the police raid on the Centre. “The Church in India is shocked by the police raid at the Divine Retreat Centre, that has been helping millions of people spiritually and through medical care and various humanitarian activities,” the Archbishop said in a statement. He said the Church had welcomed an investigation into the functioning of the Divine Retreat Centre, as per the High Court Order. “We are ready to be investigated as the Divine Retreat Centre has nothing hide. Its activities are an open book,” he said.

But Archbishop Thumkuzhy said what the police did last week was not investigation, but “a forcible raid” that created a fearsome atmosphere in the Centre.

“The police officials did not care to look at the documents that the Retreat Centre office bearers and priests handed over to them. Police simply wanted to create a terror atmosphere in the Centre because they have not got any evidence of misappropriation and wrong-doings from the place,” the Archbishop said.

He said it is a baseless allegation that the Centre is running a hospital and mental care centre without government registration and permission. “The Divine Retreat Centre does not run any hospitals and procure medicines. What the Centre is running is a rehabilitation centre for the sick and the needy, who are poor people,” the Archbishop pointed out.

The Divine Retreat Centre’s Director, Vincentian Father George Panackal, also denied that it runs an illegal hospital. “The allegations are part of the conspiracy to defame the center and its activities. We have nothing to hide. We are serving the poor and the needy people,” he said.

He said that that the retreat centre manages a center for mentally challenged people and a treatment center for alcoholics with federal government recognition. Their emergency dispensary cares for some of the thousands of people who attend retreats every week, he added.

The Divine Retreat Centre conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year. More than 10,000 people from various religions attend the programs, which begin Sunday evening and end Saturday morning.

 

 

Govt. not to interfere in Divine Retreat Centre: Minister
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3590

www.theindiancatholic.com

Thiruvananthapuram, October 5, 2006

The Kerala state government has assured Church leaders and Christian politicians that it would not disturb the functioning of the renowned Divine Retreat Centre that was raided by the police last week.

The assurance came from Kerala’s Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan after a group of Christian politicians raised the raid in Divine Retreat Centre in the state assembly on Wednesday.

A team of police and health officials raided the Retreat Centre at Muringoor last week as per an order from the Kerala High Court. The court on March 10 had asked the state government to set up a special team to probe allegations against the Retreat Centre.

The court order came after it received an anonymous letter and two compact discs implicating the Divine Retreat Center in a series of crimes and irregularities such as murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without proper license.

The Vincentian priests that manage the Centre, which is Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat station, have denied the police charge saying the allegations against the Centre are aimed at maligning the good works that the Church is carrying out there.

Church leaders in India have flayed a recent raid that the police officials carried out in Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat centre, the Divine Retreat Centre, functioning in the southern state of Kerala.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Jacob Thumkuzhy of Thrissur flayed the police raid on the Centre. “The Church in India is shocked by the police raid at the Divine Retreat Centre, that has been helping millions of people spiritually and through medical care and various humanitarian activities,” the Archbishop said in a statement.

He said the Church had welcomed an investigation into the functioning of the Divine Retreat Centre, as per the High Court Order. “We are ready to be investigated as the Divine Retreat Centre has nothing hide. Its activities are an open book,” he said.

But Archbishop Thumkuzhy said what the police did last week was not investigation, but “a forcible raid” that created a fearsome atmosphere in the Centre.

On Wednesday, Kerala Congress president K M Mani raised the issue in the state Assembly, stating that the police action was unnecessary and causing disturbance at the Divine Retreat Centre.

“Everyone knows the great spiritual and humanitarian activities that the Retreat Centre has been carrying out all these years. It is shocking that the police have raided the Centre based on certain allegations that are not yet proved,” Mani told the Assembly.

Replying to the question, Home Minister Balakrishnan said that the police conducted an inspection of the Divine Centre as per the Kerala High Court orders. “I want to assure the Church leaders and everyone that the government would not do anything to disturb the functioning of the Centre,” the Minister said.

The Divine Retreat Centre’s Director, Vincentian Father George Panackal, has denied that it runs an illegal hospital. “The allegations are part of the conspiracy to defame the center and its activities. We have nothing to hide. We are serving the poor and the needy people,” he said.

He said that that the retreat centre manages a center for mentally challenged people and a treatment center for alcoholics with federal government recognition. Their emergency dispensary cares for some of the thousands of people who attend retreats every week, he added.

The Divine Retreat Centre conducts weekly retreats in six Indian languages and English throughout the year. More than 10,000 people from various religions attend the programs, which begin Sunday evening and end Saturday morning.

 

 

Probe into Christian centre on: Kerala Police http://www.teluguportal.net/modules/news/article.php?storyid=17084
Thiruvananthapuram, IANS, October 10, 2006

Kerala police Tuesday maintained that the probe into the activities of Muringur Divine Retreat, a Christian faith-healing centre in the state, was still on.
Office bearers of the Divine Suvisheshamunani (‘Fellowship’), a group of well-wishers of the centre at Chalakudy in Trissur district, held a press conference here saying that the Kerala High Court had given it a clean chit.
They said police were harassing its workers who provide solace to the poor and AIDS patients. However, senior police inspector general Vincent Paul said: “I head the investigation as directed by the high court and what they said is baseless.
“There was an inspection done at the centre on Sep 30 and the case is still on. The report on that inspection would be given to the court soon,” said Paul.
Brother Peter Patarmadom, the state coordinator of the fellowship, said: “A police team had come to the centre Sep 30 and they had created a panic and scare among the inmates. They took video pictures of even AIDS patients and also questioned them. The centre comes under the Ernakulam Archdiocese of the Syro Malabar Church and is billed as Asia’s biggest Christian retreat centre. It is among the biggest faith healing centres in the country after a modest beginning in the late 1980’s. People from all religions and all parts of the country visit it to participate in prayers for a period of a few days to more than a week. The police inspection followed the court directive in March this year, seeking a first information report on allegations ranging from illegal foreign funding to criminal and other activities.
The court decided to conduct the inquiry after receiving a complaint from a former employee of the centre.
“It is sad that those who conducted the press conference are not aware that the case is not closed. We did not arrive in the centre that day in police vehicles and barring one police official not a single person was in uniform. We were accompanied by a three-member medical team who in fact did the check,” added Paul.
The fellowship members later held a demonstration before the state secretariat here.

 

 

Raid on Divine Retreat Centre Infringes On Minority Rights: Council 

http://www.mail-archive.com/goanet@lists.goanet.org/msg04594.html


				

Thrissur, Kerala, SAR NEWS, October 11, 2006 

Thrissur Archdiocesan Minority Rights Protection Council has flayed the police raid at the Divine Retreat Centre (DRC) at nearby Muringoor, September 30.

DRC, a venture of the Vincentian Congregation established in 1990mainly for propagating the Word of God, has earned a pride of place among the pilgrim centres of the country, a spokesman for the centre told SAR News, October 10. Over 2.5 million devotees from various parts of India and abroad have visited the centre so far, he added.

It conducts prayer services, preaching, discourses and sacraments throughout the year. Besides helping the devotees in their spiritual rejuvenation and liberation from alcohol and drugs addiction, the centre also conducts healing services.

Though DRC was set up mainly for spiritual enrichment and retreats, it also houses a de-addiction centre, a 100-bed after-care home for AIDS patients, Saint Mary's Home for Mother and Child Care, a 150-bed general hospital, a tailoring school, Divine Printers and Publishers, Divine Voice monthly magazine, a bible college and Divine Diary Farm, providing gainful employment to over 1,500 persons, the spokesman said.

DRC received an annual grant of Rs. 500,000 from the Central Government, Director of the Centre, Father George Panackal told SAR News October 8, while complaining on the police raid to the Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly Oommen Chandy when he visited the centre.

In a press note issued October 9, Father John Ayyankana, secretary of the Minority Rights Protection Council, said the police raid on DRC was a blatant infringement of the fundamental and minority rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India. The policemen behaved impolitely with the women inmates of the center, as the raiding team had no women police with it, the press note alleged. The policemen rudely interrogated even the Aids patients undergoing treatment at the DRC hospital. "The raid created an atmosphere of search for 'terrorists' at the center," the note added.

The trend of encroaching on the places of religious worship of Hindus, Christians and Muslims by policemen in the name of allegations of bribe and corruption was on the increase recently, the note added. The Council has urged the government to show readiness to respect religious heads and their institutions and the directions of the law courts.

If the government attempted again to humiliate the DRC, the faithful would resist it at any cost, Father Ayyankana said.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Centre, Father Panackal told the former Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, at Muringoor October 8 that the raid was a deliberate attempt to insult the DRC.

The policemen had disturbed Holy Mass at the centre in the name of raid and supply of meals to the patients was considerably delayed, he said.

The Kerala High Court had directed the government to investigate the various activities of the retreat centre following an anonymous letter to the court, Panackal added.

Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair of the Kerala High Court, acting suo motu on an anonymous letter, ordered March 10 an investigation into the alleged "criminal and antisocial activities in the DRC".

 

 

Retreat Center Asks Kerala State to Stop Police Harassment

http://www.ucanews.com/2006/10/11/retreat-center-asks-kerala-state-to-stop-police-harassment/

Thiruvananthapuram, October 11, 2006

Representatives of the Divine Retreat Center have asked the Kerala state government to take steps to end what they describe as police harassment of the center staff and its residents.
“The police are harassing the inmates in the name of investigation,” Peter Pattarmadom of the center declared at a press conference Oct. 10 in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.
For the past year, controversies have dogged the facility in Muringoor, a village about 2,560 kilometers south of New Delhi. Vincentian priests manage the popular center, where weekly retreats it runs throughout the year each attract more than 10,000 people from various religions.
Pattarmadom said that early this month a large team of police officials created a fearful atmosphere in the center, which also houses hundreds of mentally ill and destitute people. A 70-member team including police and state health officials visited, questioned people and examined documents on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, spending seven hours at the center each day.
The investigation team “created a panic and scare among the inmates,” Pattarmadom later told UCA News. He said the police acted illegally, searching even the living quarters and bathrooms of women and questioning mentally unsound people. Media, he charged, “unfortunately” have projected the center as a place of “crime or persecution.” The misinformation campaign is “part of a conspiracy aimed at destroying the credibility of the center,” he added.
Twelve people representing the center addressed the press conference. Lawyer Philip Joseph said police who raided the center violated norms and directives of India’s Supreme Court. “We don’t keep our doors closed to anyone. Thousands of people are living at the center irrespective of caste or religion,” he told the media gathering.
The spokespeople explained that the center offers shelter for more than 10,000 people in different houses meant for people who are mentally ill, orphaned, sick, destitute and drug-addicted. They insisted it does not run a hospital but houses these people because they have no place to go.
The investigation started following a March 10 directive of the Kerala High Court. The court was acting on an anonymous letter and two compact discs it reportedly received that implicated the center in a series of crimes and irregularities including murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without a proper license. Last year a woman claiming to be a former employee of the retreat center told a magistrate that a priest official of the center raped and impregnated her. The woman, Mini Varghese, was in police custody in a theft case when she made the complaint.
The priest willingly underwent a DNA test and it proved the allegation of the woman “baseless,” Pattarmadom told the press conference. He cited such inquiries as part of a plan to harass the center.
However, Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul, who is in charge of the probe ordered by the High Court, denied the allegations of police harassment. He said it was conducted following the court directions. “We will be submitting our report soon,” Paul told UCA News on Oct. 10.
Except for one uniformed police officer, all others who entered the center for investigation were in civilian dress, he said. “The inspection team was accompanied by a medical team. We never harassed anybody there. We checked the facilities and talked to people and examined the medical care offered at the center,” Paul explained. Meanwhile, opposition leader and former state chief minister Oommen Chandy, an Orthodox Christian, released to the media an Oct. 10 letter in which he demanded an explanation from the government. The letter said police made the investigation “a big show.” He requested the home minister of the ruling communist alliance to visit the center to understand the “ground realities.”
“I’ve visited the center and have great appreciation for its services,” Chandy told UCA News Oct. 10.
That same day about 200 people held a prayer meeting for the center’s cause in front of the state legislature. Auxiliary Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathiose of Trivandrum Syro-Malankara archdiocese addressed the group.
The Syro-Malankara Church, like the larger Syro-Malabar Church, is an Oriental Catholic rite based in Kerala. They and the Latin-rite, largest of the three, make up the Indian Catholic Church.

 

 

STATEMENT ISSUED IN DEFENSE OF THE CENTRE

Cardinal Varkey on Divine Retreat Centre Investigations
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3871

October 11/November 4, 2006

Statement by His Eminence Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil

Major Archbishop Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese

The Divine Retreat Centre at Muringoor shelters countless distressed people in deep misery who flock together week after week seeking divine help. Held in high esteem both in the Church as well as in society. This Retreat Centre had a humble beginning under the ministries of a few committed Vincentian priests who have fully devoted their lives to be at the service of all men and women who are plunged in deep misery and to preach the Good News of the Gospel. It is a Centre of healing and relief for the mentally sick and those abandoned by their own dear ones. The Good News of the Gospel preached there is the Word of Jesus Christ who came “To proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Observing the change of life effected in the lives of people through this Retreat Centre, people of different walks of life irrespective of caste or creed, are being attracted to Divine. Through the ministry of God’s Word preached at this Retreat Centre, countless people addicted to alcohol and narcotics have reformed their lives and have resumed their responsibilities in their homes. Through the witness of these people, the renown of the Divine Retreat Centre has spread throughout Kerala and to the rest of the world. As a result right now, the Ministry of the Word is carried out in Malayalam, English, Kannada, Hindi, Konkani, Telugu, and Tamil languages in Divine Retreat Centre each week.

Divine Retreat Centre is a House of Refuge for the broken, the afflicted, the unwanted mental patients and the AIDS victims ostracized by society. Thousands of patients come here to pray for their healing. A large number of people get healings because of their faith. Listening to God’s Word of Love, people give up their evil ways of life and reform themselves – bringing peace and joy to society. Retreat Centres of this kind are lighthouses to those who stray from the right path in the journey of life.

That the powers of evil fight relentlessly against those who do good to society is not an isolated instance in the history of mankind. The unending flow of thousands of people to Divine Retreat Centre for their spiritual awakening is not being relished by a microscopic minority. They conspire and devise plans to malign this Retreat Centre among the public. At the beginning, they brought charges against the priests who serve at this Retreat Centre. Although there were court cases, the doors of the Divine Retreat Centre were left open for all. Anyone could at any time step in. At this Retreat Centre, to my knowledge, nothing is done secretly or under cover of concealment. That is precisely why when the Honourable Court ordered an inquiry, the Director of Divine Retreat Centre boldly declared that they would fully cooperate with the inquiry.

The Police Inquiry in a Centre of Prayer and Worship should have been conducted in a decent and respectable manner. Instead of observing and getting to know the ground realities, it is deplorable that a police investigation trespassing all the limits of decency and respectability was carried out. The media projection of the recent police investigation at the Divine Retreat Centre is itself despicable.

Anybody could at any time visit the quarters of AIDS victims and those thrown out from the mainstream of society. An inquiry moved by prejudices and misleading propaganda is not likely to be impartial and objective. The police action has cut deep wounds in the minds of millions of people who have availed themselves of the service of this Retreat Centre and who hold Divine in high esteem. The Police as well as the Government should have encouraged the works of mercy being carried out by religious groups and voluntary associations of this country. It is also the responsibility of the Government to care for the poor and the sick and to rehabilitate them. To show respect and decency to religious groups is a basic principle of democracy. Those responsible for it should see that justice is done to everybody. Because the Christians are tolerant, it is cruel and inhumane to conclude that anything can be done to them. The Police have dishonoured not only the religious community associated with the Divine Retreat Centre but also all those who devote themselves day and night for the works of mercy at this Retreat Centre. The Government and the Home Minister are urgently called upon to correct the police excesses and to take the necessary steps not to repeat such unwarranted actions in future.

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil

Major Archbishop, Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese

11 October 2006

 

 

Stop police action in religious institutions: Union Minister
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3709

http://www.cbci.in/newsread.asp?nid=3931

Changanaserry, October 16, 2006

Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has asked the Kerala state government to stop the police excesses in religious institutions. Accusing the Left parties-run Kerala government of using the language of threat against religious institutions, Ravi said police action and uncivilized acts against meditation and retreat centers belonging to any faith do not bode well for any modern society.

The police had inspected the retreat centre, under the Ernakulam Archdiocese of the Syro Malabar Church, on September 30 following a High Court order to assess its functioning.

The court order came after it received an anonymous letter and two compact discs implicating the Divine Retreat Centre in a series of crimes and irregularities such as murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running a hospital without proper license.

The Vincentian priests that manage the Centre, which is Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic retreat station, have denied the police charge saying the allegations against the Centre are aimed at maligning the good works that the Church is carrying out there.

Referring to the police raid, the Central Minister said meditation centers are where one gets peace of mind and human goodness. “Each and everyone in the country has the constitutional and democratic right to follow his conviction and faith. None has the right to insult or torture religious faithful,” Ravi said.

The Minister was in Changanaserry to inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations of the Changanaserry Archdiocese.

Ravi said when the governments in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan tried to bring in a new legislation to choke the minorities in the name of alleged conversion, the Governors of the respective states returned it.

“The Christian community had been into many trials and tribulations in the past 2000 years. Their strength was evident and they cannot be subjugated,” he said.

The Minister said the Changanaserry Archdiocese is one of the Catholic dioceses which can definitely claim credit for the yeomen service provided in the fields of education and social service.

Presiding over the function, Major Archbishop Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil said that the contributions of the Changanaserry Archdiocese in various sectors in the past 50 years was significant and amazing.

 

 

Opposition walks out of Kerala Assembly
http://www.canadaupdates.com/news/opposition_walks_out_of_kerala_assembly-24822.html

Thiruvananthapuram, IANS, October 17, 2006

The opposition Tuesday walked out of the Kerala Assembly after its demand that Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visit the Muringur Divine Retreat, a Christian faith-healing centre in the state, was turned down. The opposition wanted the minister to visit the centre because the police allegedly conducted a raid violating all norms last month. Raising the issue, former law minister K.M. Mani said the police violated norms in the Criminal Procedure Code and harassed HIV/AIDS patients. “A priest who is also director of the centre was held under wrongful confinement and the mentally challenged patients undergoing treatment were also dealt with cruelly,” said Mani.

Replying to these charges by the former minister, Balakrishnan denied any atrocities by the police and said they were only investigating after the Kerala High Court suo motu decided to inquire into the alleged illegal activities in the centre and constituted a police team led by Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul for the purpose. “I took legal opinion about my visit and I was advised that since the issue is subjudice it wouldn’t be proper for me to visit the centre. But now that the issue has been raised I will again discuss this issue. Please don’t make this a political issue,” he said.

Unhappy with the reply, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said it was most unfortunate that the minister blamed the opposition for making the issue a political one. “Several legislators from your front visited the centre after the police raid. If it was a normal investigation by the police, would your people have visited the centre? We demand that you should say you (Balakrishnan) would visit the centre now,” said Chandy. With the home minister not committing to this, an angry opposition stormed out of the assembly.

The centre comes under the Ernakulam Archdiocese of the Syro Malabar Church and is billed as Asia’s biggest Christian retreat centre. It is among the biggest faith healing centres in the country after a modest beginning in the late 1980’s. People from all religions and all parts of the country visit it to participate in the prayers. The police inspection followed the court directive in March seeking a first information report on allegations ranging from illegal foreign funding to criminal and other activities. The court decided to conduct the inquiry after receiving a complaint from a former employee of the centre. Meanwhile the court Monday asked the probe team to submit the report in a sealed cover before Nov 17 – the day fixed by the court to make its assessment.

 

 

STATEMENT ISSUED IN DEFENSE OF THE CENTRE

Million hearts retain the true picture of Divine Retreat Centre

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/3872

http://www.drcm.org/Statement.asp

By Fr. George Panackal VC, Director, Divine Retreat Centre – Malayalam programmes, November 4, 2006


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I write this in exceptional circumstances. On the 10th of March 2006, the Honourable High Court of Kerala authorized a police officer to make a detailed probe into the activities of Divine Retreat Centre based on certain allegations levelled against the Centre. You might have come to know of it from the newspapers. I too came to know about this through the media. The 10 million people who have been to Divine Retreat Centre for prayers and retreats over the past eighteen years retain in their hearts a very vivid picture of the Centre’s spiritual integrity. However, the picture projected by certain biased sections of the media was very different and it pains me very deeply – just as it pains the heart of all those who have been to this Centre and have undoubtedly been spiritually blessed.
The question arising in the minds of the people is why the true picture of Divine Retreat Centre was not presented in the media as well as before the Honourable High Court. The answer to this is that we did not have the fair opportunity to enjoy the right of an Indian citizen to present the real image of the Divine Retreat Centre before the court. The court took up the case suo motu (on its own initiative) and has issued the order without prior notice. Nevertheless, we have complete confidence and faith in all the judicial proceedings of the court and we welcome this inquiry with open arms.
All the 10 million people who have been to the Retreat Centre are fully aware of what the Retreat Centre is all about and of the spiritual integrity of the priests here. We have about 2000 permanent inmates in the Divine Retreat Centre who found shelter in our Centre when they were faced with abandonment, homelessness and dire financial crisis. Besides, we have about 100 AIDS patients, about 100 aged and destitute people, 500 mentally challenged, and 300 orphan children cared for by the Centre with love and compassion.
My brethren, Divine Retreat Centre was the first in Kerala to take the initiative to accept, provide shelter, and care for AIDS patients till the very end of their lives. I recall in the early days of our AIDS Home how the court itself in one of its rulings, requested our assistance, and sent an AIDS patient to be cared for at the Divine Retreat Centre.

 

Unfortunately, it is not the true picture of these meritorious works of mercy carried out in Divine that was portrayed in the newspapers last Saturday (11 March 2006). We are saddened at this. Despite the wrong image given by certain sections of the media, we firmly believe that it cannot erase the true picture from the hearts of the 10 million people. We are very sure of that. I know you have great pain in your hearts. I gratefully remember all those who have telephoned us and visited us to express their support and solidarity and all those who prayed for us during this time of trial. Along with this, I would like to mention a few more things.
For quite some time, certain misguided people have been trying to tarnish the good name of Fr. Mathew Thadathil.

 


 

He is a holy and devout priest with outstanding capabilities and has been serving along with me in this centre for the last seven years. Father Mathew Thadathil belongs to the Vincentian Congregation and is entrusted with the administrative responsibility in Divine Retreat Centre, solely due to his integrity. His preaching and prayers have led many to a true conversion of their hearts. In fact the Circle Inspector of Chalakudy, known for his investigative ability and impeccable character had investigated the same charge that has been raised by the media now and had arrived at the conclusion that there was no truth at all in the allegations against Fr. Mathew and that the complaint was false. We do not have any grievance against the court for ordering a fresh investigation of this case. We welcome this inquiry hoping once and for all to prove the innocence of this priest. Therefore, even though there is a court order, I know, there will be no doubts about the integrity of the Centre and its activities in the hearts of those who have made retreats here and those who are close to us. I assure the general public and all the 10 million people who have been to our Centre, and also to those who are planning to come to our Retreat Centre – Fr. Mathew is absolutely innocent.
My brethren, some people may wonder how such extensive works of charity can be undertaken in our State of Kerala without foreign funding. However, the Centre took the initiative and set an example for the world to undertake charitable works without any foreign funds. The work that is done here is possible because many ordinary people from all walks of life share their limited resources with us through individual contributions. I am sure that anyone who has attended retreats in our Centre will not have any misunderstanding on this issue. Funding is a problem but our dependence is on God, and the very truth is that right now we have a debt of about 30 million rupees with the banks. Our accounts are open and transparent and we welcome any person to come and check them to clear any doubts they may have on this matter.
Many government officials have attended retreats in our Centre. After the retreats, several of them have joined hands with us to pray for and fight against bribery, corruption and all forms of injustice. They receive inspiration for this from the Centre and have gone on to do a lot of good in our society and they encourage each other by coming together in prayer fellowships. You would have learnt about this from factual newspaper reports. The gates of Divine Retreat Centre are always open to anyone wanting to attend the retreats. All are welcome even if they are not able to pay the registration fees. For the past eighteen years, Divine Retreat Centre has established itself as a haven of solace and hope for all those who are hurting and for many who were even contemplating suicide. Dr. Sukumar Azhikode, the renowned writer, has stated this fact publicly after having visited this centre.
We are aware of the fact that when we work against the evils in society and engage ourselves in good works, it is normal to have many enemies. We do not consider anyone as an enemy. The reason is that in the past, those who were initially against us have eventually become allies and co-workers of Divine Retreat Centre. Therefore, we do not see those who are working against us presently as our enemies; instead, we believe that they are the future allies and benefactors of this House of God. We pray and have this great expectation and hope in our hearts that we will, one day, be working together with them for the betterment of the poor, the downtrodden and the under-privileged.
The Divine Retreat Centre has been a home for the 10 million people who have made weekly residential retreats here and it will continue to be a home to them. We warmly welcome all those who were exposed to the recent media reports, to visit the Centre to experience the same Divine consolation and strength which more than 10 million of people have already experienced.
I sincerely request that those who have been to the Retreat Centre will continue to treasure in their hearts the real and true image of the Divine Retreat Centre.

Rev. Fr. George Panackal V.C., Director

Divine Retreat Centre

STATEMENT ISSUED IN DEFENSE OF THE CENTRE

The Truth in (sic) the recent happenings at Divine

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3875

By Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Director – English and other language retreats, October 23/November 4, 2006

 


 

Recently, Divine Retreat Centre has been subjected to allegations perpetuated by certain communal forces that have been regularly handing out false news and claims against us to the mass media. I would like to share with everyone who loves us, the truth of what has actually been happening in Divine recently.

On 10 March 2006, the Honourable High Court of Kerala, upon receiving an anonymous letter and 2 CDs containing false allegations against Divine Retreat Centre, took up the case suo motu (on its own initiative) and ordered an inquiry into the affairs of our Retreat Centre. A Special Investigation Team headed by the IG of Police, Winson M. Paul, was formed to find out whether there was any truth in these allegations. We, at Divine Retreat Centre, had wholeheartedly welcomed this investigation and have been giving it our full cooperation. However, it is our firm belief that after carrying out the police investigation for so many months and spending a very huge amount of public money, the Investigation team could not find anything in Divine that was in violation of any laws or justice. Yet, certain things have been happening recently which have made us question whether Divine is being subjected to a violation of our basic rights as citizens of India – where everyone is guaranteed true and unbiased justice.

The humiliating manner in which the police investigation was carried out in the Charitable Homes of Divine Retreat Centre on 30 September and 1 October 2006 seem to strongly indicate that it is in the interest of the Investigation team to find out something incriminating against Divine Retreat Centre. In fact, the High Court had only given the directive to the Special Investigation team to submit a report after the Police inquiry to ascertain if there was any truth in the original allegations made. (Rev. Fr. George Panackal’s March 2006 comments in accompanying mail).

Nobody comes to Divine Retreat Centre for medical treatment and we do not run illegal hospitals here. Divine is primarily a Centre of Prayer. Millions of people have come here to have a spiritual experience and get solace for all the problems they face in their lives. We have many volunteers who choose to stay on to serve in Divine Retreat Centre because of the joy of their spiritual experience. However, there are those who come to Divine who have severe alcoholic problems and need to be in a treatment centre. These people are admitted to our De-Addiction Centre. Likewise, Divine runs Care Centres and Homes for AIDS patients, mentally challenged people, abandoned women and their children and terminally ill and elderly people.

We have nothing to hide. We are committed in serving the poor and the needy people irrespective of caste and religion – especially those who are ostracized by their families and societies and who have no other place to live in dignity. Divine Retreat Centre manages a Care Centre for Mentally Challenged people and a Treatment Centre for Alcoholics with federal government recognition. Our Retreat Centre’s Emergency Dispensary cares for some of the thousands of people who attend our retreats every week that are held in English and in six Indian languages.

In the past few weeks, after the latest police investigation activity, wrong reports have been published in many major media sources. One allegation is that that there are no qualified medical personnel in Divine Retreat Centre. I would like to reassure all our friends and benefactors of Divine that this is certainly not true.

There is 1 resident medical officer, 4 clinical psychiatrists, 1 general physician, 1 Homeopathy doctor, 2 Ayurvedic doctors, registered pharmacists and several qualified nurses serving at the Care Centres and Homes run by our Retreat Centre. Despite our best efforts, the investigating authorities were unwilling to listen to our explanations or to look at any of the available documents.

Many of our mentally challenged residents, AIDS patients and recovering addicts are unable to personally ensure taking the correct amount of medication that are prescribed to them by qualified doctors from surrounding hospitals, Thus, we have undertaken this important care initiative to provide them with the correct daily dosage.

There was no justifiable cause for the rough and insensitive behaviour of the Police Investigation team against the more than 1,000 residents of our Care Centres and Homes. Their basic human rights were violated and they did not get the fair justice that they are entitled to. I would like to share with you some of the many public acts of support that we have received after this recent Police Investigation:

 

 

Our Archbishop, His Eminence Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, made a personal visit to our Retreat Centre on 11 October 2006 to provide his unwavering support to all of us in Divine. He also personally addressed our Malayalam retreatants about the recent police investigation. His Eminence Cardinal Varkey declared, “That the powers of evil fight relentlessly against those who do good to society is not an isolated instance in the history of mankind. The unending flow of thousands of people to Divine Retreat Centre for their spiritual awakening is not being relished by a microscopic minority. They conspire and devise plans to malign this Retreat Centre among the public.”

In a statement, Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Thrissur, strongly criticized the recent Police investigation. “The Church in India is shocked by the police investigation at the Divine Retreat Centre, that has been helping millions of people spiritually and through medical care and various humanitarian activities. This Centre has given refuge and care to many helpless and destitute sick people. It was atrocious on the part of the police to deal with them in an unbecoming manner.”

Most Rev. James Pazhayattil, Bishop of Irinjalakuda stated, “The Government should have encouraged and helped the many charitable works carried out by Divine Retreat Centre. What has happened has caused great grief to the Christian community and all men of goodwill.”

Mr. K. M. Mani, the State’s ex-Revenue Minister, who is currently Member of Legislative Assembly for Palai Constituency and Chairman of the Kerala Congress Party, visited our Centre on 3 October 2006. He stated, “Divine Retreat Centre has become an oasis for the poor, sick people abandoned by medical science and a home of refuge for the mentally challenged people. I always come here with a sense of awe for the magnificent works of compassion and mercy. It is indeed a sacred place where the poor and sick are taken care of – we see the Face of God in them. The Police should have respected the sanctity and holiness of this House of God.”

Mr. John Kachiramattam, President of Kerala Catholics Federation stated, “Certain fundamental and communal forces have been working against the Divine Retreat Centre for some time now. The Police should have been aware of this and should have given full protection and encouragement to the manifold works of mercy carried out by the Retreat Centre. I want to assure the Fathers of Divine Retreat Centre that the Christian community of Kerala stand firmly by them.”

Mr. Thomas Kandathil, Mr. Sebastian Vadassery, Adv. Charly Paul and Adv. Jacob Mundackal, leaders of the All Kerala Catholic Congress, issued a joint statement. “The orphan children picked up from the street gutters and the poor widows despised by families, AIDS patients ostracized by society, and the mental patients who are considered a threat and burden to their families are accepted with open arms and cared for by Divine Retreat Centre. There is the Hindu and Muslim people of all caste and communities who are also cared for without any discrimination. In fact, the Police should have provided protection for all these helpless people instead of frightening them.”

We, the Fathers at Divine Retreat Centre, hope that such an untoward incident will never be repeated again. Divine is a House of God and we will continue to love and care for all the poor and needy people who have turned to us for help. We are extremely grateful and thankful for the prompt and strong support of our Archbishop, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, other Bishops and Church authorities, Political leaders, people of high moral standing in our society and Divine’s numerous friends and benefactors – in India and all over the world – who have contacted us and visited our Centre. Many have spoken up publicly for all the works of Divine and are calling for a fair and impartial police investigation. We ask for your fervent prayers for truth and justice to prevail. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

23 October 2006

 

 

STATEMENT ISSUED IN DEFENSE OF THE CENTRE

Leader sees motives in raid at charismatic centre

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/4098

http://www.theindiancatholic.com/

Kochi, (ICNS), November 21, 2006

The attitude of the police who raided the Divine Retreat Centre in Kerala indicates that it was done to malign the centre, says Cyril John, chairman of the National Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India.
The action was an infringement of the human and minority rights and the freedom of worship, he said in a letter sent to Bishops and other Church leaders in India. The following is the full text of his letter:

Your Eminence/Your Grace/Leaders in the CCR,
As you are aware, the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor, Kerala, run by the Vincentian Congregation, is the largest retreat center in the world where retreats are preached in seven languages simultaneously, viz. in Malayalam, English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Konkani. People of all faiths with incurable diseases, addicted to alcoholism, victims of social evils and those with broken families have been flocking to this place seeking solace, healing and reconciliation. On an average 8,000 people converge for the retreats every week and the number rises to about 30,000 during holiday season. In the last sixteen years, more than sixty lakh people have benefited by the services conducted by this Centre.
In addition to preaching, the Divine Retreat Centre is also a Home of Love where there are about 3,000 “least of the brethren” of Jesus being taken care of. St. Mary’s Home takes care of destitute mothers and children, the De-Addiction Centre looks after those addicted to alcohol and drugs, St Vincent’s Home houses the AIDS patients, the Divine Mercy Home has elderly men and women abandoned by their families and the Divine Care Centre takes care of the mentally ill.


You may be aware of certain unfortunate happening and false news reports surrounding the Divine Retreat Centre in the recent times. On the basis of an anonymous letter and two CDs, the Hon’ble Kerala High Court had suo motu ordered an enquiry into all the activities of the Divine Retreat Centre on 10th March, 2006. A Special Investigation Team headed by the IG of Police was constituted to enquire into the matter. When the case came up for hearing, the Director General of Prosecutions had argued that investigation had been conducted properly and “there is no merit in the complaints of the de-facto complainant… It is also argued that the other allegations leveled against the Centre are too vague and general and no further action is necessary regarding those allegations”. In spite of this, on 30th September and 1st October, 2006, a large contingent of police in seven large vehicles and a team of doctors reached the Divine Retreat Centre, took control and raided the Centre. The police obstructed the celebration of the Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration, etc. and misbehaved with the women and the sick. The police surrounded Fr George Panackal, Director of the Centre and prevented him from getting in touch with the Provincial of the Congregation and the members of the Church hierarchy.
The raid conducted and the attitude of the police team indicate that it was done with the motive of maligning the good and humanitarian works being carried on by the Divine Retreat Centre. The action was an infringement of the human and minority rights and the freedom of worship. It has have hurt the sentiments of all right thinking people in the country and have also attracted wide protests from all sections. It is also distressing to find that both the print and electronic media have been trying to blow up the events beyond proportion. As a result of this, there are false reports being spread among the people and many have approached the National Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India seeking clarification on the reports. To clarify the misgivings, an article, “The truth in the recent happening at Divine” by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC has been published in the December, 2006 issue of Charisindia. I am also enclosing a message from His Eminence Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil C.Ss.R, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, on the issue for your kind perusal.
I have personally visited the Divine Retreat Centre a number of times and can vouch for the good work being carried on by the Centre. I would like to state categorically that the allegations are baseless and biased. Therefore, we need to stand united against the forces of evil and express our solidarity and support to the Divine Retreat Centre at this time so that the wonderful mission undertaken by the Centre could be carried on uninterruptedly. They also need our prayer support at this juncture of pain and turmoil. In view of the maligning reports being circulated by the media, it is also important that we propagate the truth regarding the happenings to remove misunderstandings from the minds of the public. I am writing to Your Eminence/Grace to seek your kind support and prayers for the Divine Retreat Centre and their ministry at this juncture of trial. I am sure that the Divine Retreat Centre and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in general will continue to enjoy your patronage and support.
I have total confidence in commending this whole situation to the loving intercession of Our Blessed Mother.
Seeking your blessings and assuring our prayers,
Yours obediently in Christ,
Cyril John, Chairman

National Service Team of the CCR in India

 


CPI(M) Leader Visits Divine Retreat Centre following Controversy
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/4635

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsection=India&month=January2007&file=World_News20070121105915.xml

By John Mary, Thiruvananthapuram, January 21, 2007

The Kerala secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Pinarayi Vijayan, has created a flutter by visiting a Christian retreat centre, which is being probed by the police on the orders of the High Court. Vijayan reached the Divine Retreat Centre at Muringoor in Thrissur yesterday morning, went round the facilities and addressed a press conference, blaming the police for crossing the limits and praising the centre for carrying out an exemplary humanitarian service.

The visit, the first by a State secretary of the CPM, was extensively covered by the media, his moments with the clergy, with Aids victims and savoring refreshments.

The Divine Retreat Centre of the Vincentian Congregation runs homes for the destitute, drug addicts, AIDS patients and the mentally handicapped. Its main attraction are the meditation sessions. On average, 8,000 people attend retreats at the centre every week, and the number rises to about 30,000 during holiday seasons. In the last 16 years, more than six million people have benefited by the services at the centre.

Vijayan, an atheist, said he could not comment on the retreat and other spiritual pursuits of the centre. I’m unable to comment on that aspect. But I can tell you that many people who have stayed here have reported on their enriching experience.

But what he said later had raised questions over the real purpose of his visit.

The police, who had crossed all borders, enjoyed the protection of the High Court. The court gave them precise directions. The police were asked to report to the court, not the state government, said Vijayan.

Vijayan also pointed out that the chief investigating officer, Inspector-General Winson Paul, was fixed by the court and not by the state government.

Vijayan’s belated sense of injustice and charges of police excesses are a subtext of the campaign against the judiciary, the latest provocation being the judgment in the multi-billion SNC Lavalin power scam. Vijayan, who wanted the Lavalin probe to be conducted by the state vigilance wing, suffered a personal embarrassment when the High Court last week asked the Federally-controlled Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the probe.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala flayed the attack on the judiciary, first by the pro-Left student leaders after judges quashed parts of the Kerala Professional College Act and now the CPM State secretary himself.

Vijayan’s secular gesture would have been well appreciated if his government had appealed against the court order against the divine centre and his party had adopted been more accommodative towards the Congress-led Opposition that raised the issue in the Assembly. The belated expression of sympathy has cast a shadow on the real intent.

 

Chandy asks home minister to visit Christian centre

http://www.nerve.in/news:25350031941

Kannur (Kerala), IANS, January 27, 2007

Former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy Saturday demanded that state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visit a Christian faith healing centre near Trissur that is under a cloud over allegations of criminal activities and receipt of foreign funds. Replying to questions on the party’s stand over the police action on the Muringur Divine Retreat Centre, he said: ‘The police did a lot of things beyond their brief, which has deeply hurt several AIDS patients living a secluded life in the centre. This is why we have asked Balakrishnan to visit it.’
The Kerala High Court had Thursday allowed the state police to go ahead with a probe on the alleged irregularities at the centre.
‘We have not made any adverse remarks on the court giving the go-ahead for a probe. It was CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) state secretary who after visiting the centre had lashed out at the court for ordering a probe,’ Chandy told reporters here.
Justice R. Basanth on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by the centre director Father George Panackal asking the court to restrain the police from going ahead with a probe.
Acting on various complaints, the court had in March last year asked Inspector General of Police Vincent Paul to submit a report on the allegations about criminal activities at the centre.
The centre, billed as Asia’s biggest, was subjected to a surprise inspection by a joint team of police and state health department officials in September. The inspection detected irregularities in the manner in which the centre was treating a large number of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism. Various state politicians raised a hue and cry after police raided the centre, and the opposition under Chandy even walked out of the assembly protesting the police action.

 

 

Runaway Thief Rupesh D’Mello caught at Divine Retreat Centre
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/4771

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-luck-runs-out-for-runaway-thief-1078226

By Ashwin Aghor, DNA Mumbai, February 6, 2007

Officers from Bhayander police station proved that the arms of the law are very long. A vehicle thief who had escaped from police custody on January 29 was finally tracked down in a village near Cochin and arrested and brought back to Bhayander on Monday. Twenty-two year old Rupesh D’Mello, an alleged thief, cannot believe his luck. He managed to hoodwink the police and escaped from custody only to be tracked down by them within a week.

D’Mello was caught by the Manikpur police station at Thane rural on January 22 on charges of vehicle theft. Based on his interrogation, the police claimed to have solved several cases of vehicle thefts in Santa Cruz, Goregaon, Borivili and Bhayander. According to the police, at least 16 motorcycles, two auto rickshaws and two cars were recovered after his arrest. His capture was so crucial for the police force that the superintendent of police, Thane (Rural) Archana Tyagi even rewarded Rs 10,000 to the cops who were responsible for D’Mello’s arrest.

On January 28, D’Mello was handed over to the Bhayander police for interrogation in another vehicle theft case. While in police lock-up, D’Mello pretended to have a terrible pain in his stomach on January 29. The constable on duty immediately opened the door of the lock-up to take him to the toilet.

On his way to the lock-up, D’Mello managed to deceive his escorts and ran away. Immediately, the Thane (Rural) police got into action and launched a massive manhunt.

As part of the manhunt, police started monitoring phone calls made by D’Mello’s relatives in Bhayander. D’Mello’s luck ran out when on February 4, he called his relative in Bhayander and the police traced his call to Retreat Divine Centre, a de-addiction centre situated in Chalakudy village, 22 kilometers from Cochin in Kerala. A team of police officers from Bhayander police station immediately went to Cochin and arrested him.

 

Kerala Police finds irregularities in Christian prayer centre

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/5811

http://www.nerve.in/news:25350044503
 
Koratty (Kerala), IANS, April 30, 2007

 

Police Monday filed a formal complaint against a leading Christian faith-healing centre in Kerala on the basis of the findings of a court-directed probe into allegations of criminal activities there.
The court-appointed special investigation team filed a first information report (FIR) at the police station here indicting Fr George Panackal, director of the Muringur Divine Retreat Centre near Trissur district, and 10 other members of the staff, including nuns, confirmed Inspector General of Police Vincent Paul.
“In order to go ahead with the investigation an FIR is required and we have filed it. The director and 10 others have been named in the FIR,” Paul told IANS.
Acting on various complaints, the Kerala High Court had in March last year asked Paul to submit a report on allegations about criminal activities going on at the centre and irregularities in foreign funds received by it.
The centre, billed as Asia’s biggest of its kind, was subjected to a surprise inspection by a joint team of police and state health department officials in September. The inspection detected irregularities in the manner in which the centre was treating a large number of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism. Following the scrutiny, politicians in the state, cutting across the party lines, raised a hue and cry while Panackal urged the court to stop the inspections.
Justice R. Basanth dismissed the petition and ruled that the court has the right to order inspections even if it is a place of worship or prayer.

 

 

Christian retreat centre: Shocking revelations by probe team

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/christian-retreat-centre-shocking-revelations-by-probe-team/story-2mz6i6F3XdJRNaeZoJwJQL.html

May 1, 2007

The High Court-appointed special police team, which probed the functioning of the Christian retreat centre in Kochi, has filed a preliminary report citing serious charges against the centre. After six-month-long investigation the special team has registered a case against the director Father George Panackal and eight other office-bearers of the centre. They have been booked under various charges including forceful confinement, causing hurt by poison, cheating and destroying evidences.

The team has also found that during 1996-2006 as many as 900 odd mysterious deaths took place at the centre and on many occasions bodies were disposed without informing the police. The documents were allegedly forged to make it appear natural deaths, the FIR said demanding a detailed probe into these deaths.

Claimed to be the largest Catholic healing centre in the world, the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor near Kochi, was in news recently after one of the devotees sent an anonymous letter to the High Court. The letter reportedly carried serious charges including sexual harassment, forceful confinement and murder charges against the centre. Soon the court suo motu constituted a high-level team headed by Inspector General of Police Vincent M Paul to inquire into the charges.

The probe team found that several persons were locked in cells in the name of healing. Persons showing violent signs were often injected with unknown drugs by untrained hands. Besides the FIR filed at Koratty police station, the team has also filed a report before the first class judicial magistrate. The team has also recommended a probe into the foreign funding of the healing centre.

When the police team raided the Divine Centre last year it had created a big furore in the state. The ruling CPM and opposition Congress had condemned it in strongest terms. But the High Court had given a green signal to the probe team. The aggrieved Divine centre had approached the apex court but it upheld the HC order. According to the website of the centre around one crore believers visited the ashram in last ten years.

 

 

BJP demands closure of controversial Kerala prayer centre

http://www.nerve.in/news:25350044753

Kannur (Kerala), IANS, May 2, 2007

The Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday demanded immediate closure of a Christian prayer centre near Trissur district against which police have filed a case following complaint of irregularities by a court-appointed investigation team.
‘Both the Left and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) are supporting the activities of the prayer centre. We demand the centre be closed down because the police have found a lot of irregularities. This is the Noida of Kerala,’ BJP state president P.K. Krishna Das told reporters here.
It was on Monday that the special investigating team had filed a formal complaint against the Muringur Divine Retreat Centre on the basis of the findings of a court-directed probe into allegations of criminal activities there, including unnatural deaths.
The court-appointed special investigation team filed a complaint with the police station here indicting Fr George Panackal, director of the centre, and 10 other members of the staff, including nuns.
Acting on various complaints, the Kerala High Court had in March 2006 asked Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul to submit a report on allegations about criminal activities going on at the divine centre and irregularities in foreign funds received by it.
Speaking to the press, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said that the Communist Party of India-Marxist government has been watching the developments after the high court intervened into the matter.
‘We will wait because right now this is being probed directly by the high court,’ said Achuthanandan.
Meanwhile, the opposition UDF that met Wednesday said they were not against the ongoing probe into the centre.
‘All what we are against was the manner in which the investigating police team made a furore at the time of the investigation. The centre houses a lot of patients and they were badly treated by the police,’ UDF convenor P.P. Thankachen told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

The centre, billed as Asia’s biggest of its kind, was subjected to a surprise inspection by a joint team of police and state health department officials in September last year.
The inspection detected irregularities in the manner in which the centre was treating a large number of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism.
Following the scrutiny, politicians in the state, cutting across party lines, raised a hue and cry while Panackal urged the court to stop the inspections.
Justice R. Basanth dismissed the petition and ruled that the court has the right to order inspections even if it is a place of worship or prayer.

 

 

Police File Criminal Charges against Asia´s Largest Charismatic Center, Some See Conspiracy

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/5824

https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2007/05/02/police-file-criminal-charges-against-asias-largest-charismatic-center-some-see-conspiracy&post_id=5702

May 2, 2007

Police have filed criminal charges against 10 top officials of a popular Catholic retreat center in southern India. The accused include two priests and a nun.

The charges against the Divine Retreat Center were filed on April 30 at the direction of Kerala state´s High Court, which ordered a probe of the center more than a year ago.

Billed as Asia´s largest Catholic charismatic renewal center, the complex managed by Vincentian priests is located in Muringoor, a village in Trissur (formerly Trichur) district, 2,565 kilometers south of New Delhi. It draws 10,000 people for its weekly retreats, conducted in seven languages.

On March 10, 2006, the High Court, reportedly acting on an anonymous letter and two compact discs it received, took up the case suo motu (on its own initiative) and appointed a senior police official, Vincent M. Paul, to head the probe. His team investigated allegations of sexual harassment, mysterious deaths, foreign exchange violations and management of a hospital without a license, said a police official who did not want to be identified.

Those now charged in the case are the center´s director, Father George Panackal, and administrator, Father Mathew Thadathil, a nun and seven others.

The charges come under Indian Penal Code sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence, the unnamed official said.

According to the probe report, 974 unnatural deaths occurred at the center between 1996 and 2006, and the bodies were disposed of without informing local police. The report further alleged that the center forged documents to make the deaths appear natural.

The center began operating three decades ago. It manages several subsidiary units on the site that house and serve poor, sick and destitute people. One such facility is Shantipuram (city of peace), which houses 450 mentally ill patients. The center also runs a de-addiction center for 150 substance abusers, and a home for 100 destitute women. Yet another facility caters to 150 widows and abandoned wives, and 300 children.

The report accused the center of running a mental hospital without a license and administering drugs without prescriptions from qualified medical professionals.

The charges are “grave and serious,” says lawyer Jaya Shanker, who handles cases in the High Court. “The accused may get 10 years” hard labor, he told UCA News. Some offenses are non-bailable and the accused must appear before the investigation officer and the court, he added.

Father Panackal, in a public statement, alleged a police vendetta against the center after it challenged the High Court-ordered investigation and filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.

“Our move irritated the investigation team,” which resulted in the charges, he said. “We will deal with it legally,” the priest added in his statement. He asked supporters to pray for the center.

Thomas Devaprasad, a journalist-turned-charismatic leader, said he was “anguished” by the “most unfortunate” turn of events. The center is caught in “controversy and conspiracy,” he added. Without elaborating, he said “time will reveal the conspiracy and expose the guilty.”

Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson for the Syro-Malabar Church, one of two Oriental Catholic Churches based in Kerala, told UCA News the Church has “faith in the judicial system and will wait for the law to take its course.”

The Vincentian congregation that manages the center belongs to the Syro-Malabar Church, one of two Oriental Catholic Churches based in Kerala. They and the Latin-rite Church make up the Indian Catholic Church.

The police have only leveled charges against the center´s officials, Father Thelakat noted, and the legal process now requires they prove the charges. He added that no one can be judged guilty before the process is completed.

Nonetheless, the Church is “sad … as one of our prime institutions is under attack,” the priest-spokesperson said. “It was a center of hope for thousands of poor people who were shunted aside by society.”

Controversial Christian prayer centre to approach court

http://www.nerve.in/news:25350045116

Angamaly (Kerala), IANS, May 4, 2007

The controversial Christian prayer centre near Trissur district Friday said that it would approach the Kerala High Court to quash the complaint of irregularities filed by a court-appointed investigation team.
The complaint has been filed by the special investigation team (SIT) led by Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul who was asked to conduct a detailed probe into all the activities by the high court after it received complaints of criminal activities including unnatural deaths taking place in the Muringur Divine Retreat Centre.
According to the SIT, there were 974 deaths of inmates in the last few years and the centre authorities were running a de-addiction centre without mandatory clearances.
Speaking to reporters here, Fr George Panackal, the director of the centre, said they would approach the court.
‘Not a single family member of the 974 people who died here has raised any doubt,’ defended Panackal.
Already the Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded immediate closure of the centre and have termed that this centre is the Noida of Kerala.
It was on Monday that the special investigating team had filed a formal complaint against the centre on the basis of the findings of a court-directed probe into allegations of criminal activities there, including unnatural deaths.
They have indicted Panackal and 10 other members of the staff, including nuns as accused.
The centre, billed as Asia’s biggest of its kind, was subjected to a surprise inspection by a joint team of police and state health department officials in September last year. The inspection detected irregularities in the manner in which the centre was treating a large number of patients suffering from depression and alcoholism.

 

 

STATEMENT ISSUED IN DEFENSE OF THE CENTRE

Truth about Divine Retreat Center Will Prevail: Fr. Augustine
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/5918

May 9, 2007

Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor belongs to the Vincentian Congregation and has always been functioning according to the direction and guidance of the Church authorities. We, the priests of the Retreat Centre, are fully committed to the motto of St. Vincent de Paul, our Patron of the Vincentian Congregation – “The Spirit of The Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18) Divine Retreat Centre has always kept its doors open to welcome and to care for the poor and the marginalized of our society irrespective of race, caste or religion. Currently, we are looking after 100 AIDS patients, 450 mentally challenged, 250 people with acute problems of addictions, 50 terminally ill patients, 200 elderly men and women abandoned by their families, 300 orphaned children and many financially broken men, women and youth (a large portion of our volunteer base who come from very poor and difficult backgrounds) – together, 3000 of “the least of the brethren of Jesus” are housed in and cared for, here, at Divine Retreat Centre.

We have always been aware that because of our commitment to preach the Gospel of Christ, certain communal forces have been working against us. It is precisely because of the bold stand we have taken in our retreats against all forms of social injustice, corruption, alcoholism, drug addiction, and exploitation against the poor, that there are many dark, anti-social forces working against us. All we have taught and practiced since Divine Retreat Centre opened in 1989 is the commandment of Jesus – “Love one another just as I love you.” (John 15:12)

The functioning of the Divine Retreat Centre has been very transparent to the ecclesiastical and civil authorities as well as to the general public from the very beginning. We have nothing to hide here! It is precisely with this attitude that we accepted with an open mind the Enquiry ordered by the Honourable High Court of Kerala on 25 March 2006. Yet, after a vigorous investigation of thirteen months, the police investigation team could not even produce a single FIR (First Information Report) against us to the court. The Retreat Centre was constantly under the surveillance of the police. Many people working for the Retreat Centre were called in for questioning. For how long could we continue to work under the pressures of the police enquiry? With no end in sight, we, the Vincentian priests, felt that there should be a time limit for this unwarranted police interference in the daily functioning of the Retreat Centre.

Rev. Fr. George Panackal V.C., Director – Divine Retreat Centre submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of India on 30 March 2007 with the belief that if there are no objective evidences against the Retreat Centre, the Order of the High Court should be given a stay. The Supreme Court of India admitted our petition on 30 March 2007. As a result, the Police Investigation Team and the Kerala Government were served notices stating that they should file a response in four weeks. As soon as the Police Investigation Team received the notice, they had an FIR registered against Divine Retreat Centre in a great hurry – without respect to the truth or facts.

I would like to point out a few of the glaring faults that stand out in the allegations highlighted in the FIR that was filed against Divine Retreat Centre on 30 April 2007. Firstly, the FIR contained very vague and general allegations. One case registered in particular is about the death of a sick person, Neena Kumari. Let me state clearly that we are happy to be accused of being involved in her death – Yes, we have cared for this woman person till her last breath! The Police are accusing us of having caused her death. Indeed, persecutions and sufferings are the rights and privileges of the disciples of Jesus! However, we would like to make one thing very clear. The post-mortem report of the said dead person states in no uncertain terms that she had died of a defective heart valve. This official report is with the Police as well as with us. Yet, the Investigating Police team seems to think that there is something unusual in the death.

The dark, anti-social communal forces that wanted to malign Divine Retreat Centre had already brought an allegation against Rev. Fr. Mathew Thadathil V.C., one of our priests who is serving here with exemplary commitment and personal holiness. They brought about this allegation using a lady who is serving a term for a theft case in the Calicut jail. She alleged that Fr. Mathew Thadathil had sexually molested and raped her and as a result she became pregnant. As per the direction of the High Court, the Police Team conducted a thorough investigation, even taking recourse to a DNA test, and came to the conclusion that all the allegations were TOTALLY false. Despite this fact, it is a matter of great concern to us that there is no effort on the part of the Police to highlight the truth of Fr. Mathew Thadathil’s proven innocence and to bring to light the evil forces that gave rise to such atrocious and baseless allegations.

When these people failed in their previous anonymous attempts, they have come forward with another allegation to malign Divine Retreat Centre. We know that many people are shocked by the recent media reports that 974 people have died in the Retreat Centre in ‘shady circumstances’. In our AIDS Home alone, we have cared for more than 1000 people in the last 10 years. Most of them who came here were in the last stages of their illness and had a natural and holy death in our care. In our Home for the Terminally Ill and in the Home for the Aged, some of our elderly residents have been called to their eternal rest. Moreover, an average of 200,000 people come annually to Divine Retreat Centre for our retreats every year. Among them, there are a lot of sick people who are abandoned by medical science and are in their last stages of life due to incurable diseases like cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, AIDS and so forth. In fact, some of them come here with the specific intention of dying a peaceful death. It is the natural death of these persons that the media has reported. Divine Retreat Centre has registered the full details of all these 974 deaths with the Melur Panchayat Office. Their complete details and addresses are kept at the office of Divine Retreat Centre as well. The fact that we have been able to take care of these abandoned and pained individuals and be of some assistance to them in the moments of their death is a matter of great joy for us. If we are crucified for this loving care that we provided, we would take it not as death but as a resurrection! Indeed, for us, the deaths of these 974 people are not something shocking or painful but a matter of priestly satisfaction – that when they were abandoned by their own, we could reach out to them to give them the comfort of the Word of God and the grace of the Holy Sacraments.

We want to remind the media that they have the moral and ethical responsibility to expose the dark, anti-social powers that continuously try to destroy the humanitarian institutions which are the sole refuge of the abandoned, the homeless and the marginalized in society – it is institutions like ours that encourage the culture of fraternal service in our society. Our call to the media is to do an honest soul-searching and to see if they have adopted a mature, objective and unbiased attitude towards Divine Retreat Centre. The Church and the society are deeply hurt by the untoward action of the police officers and the irresponsible attitude of the media. Sensationalism on prime-time television news, radio and newspapers without verifying the truth or reporting the true facts has caused irreparable harm and pain to innocent parties and to the works of Divine Retreat Centre. There has been a very calculated move on the part of the communal forces to shut down this House of Prayer by continuously raising false allegations and instigating communal tensions. We hope and pray that the truth will succeed and that we will get the opportunity soon to prove that all the allegations are false.

We request the prayers of all our friends and benefactors who have shown us immense love and unwavering support – that we may stand firm with the Lord to face these false allegations with the courage of the martyrs of the early church!

“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” (Hebrews 10:24)

Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Director – English & Other Language Retreats

Divine Retreat Centre

09 May 2007

 

 

Muringoor Divine Centre: SC allows police investigation

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/5978

Thiruvananthapuram, May 17, 2007

The Supreme Court today permitted the special police team to proceed the investigation on allegations against the Muringoor Divine Centre. The investigation team must consult the court before arresting anyone related to the divine centre in connection with the case, the apex court directed. Meanwhile, the court rejected the plea submitted by Maria Palana Society.
Earlier, the special police team, which probed the functioning of the Christian retreat centre in Kochi, has filed a preliminary report citing serious charges against the centre. After six-month-long investigation the special team has registered a case against the director Father George Panackal and eight other office-bearers of the centre. They have been booked under various charges including forceful confinement, causing hurt by poison, cheating and destroying evidences.
The team has also found that during 1996-2006 as many as 900 odd mysterious deaths took place at the centre and on many occasions bodies were disposed without informing the police. The documents were allegedly forged to make it appear natural deaths, the FIR said demanding a detailed probe into these deaths.
Claimed to be the largest Catholic healing centre in the world, the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor near Kochi, was in news recently after one of the devotees sent an anonymous letter to the Kerala High Court. The letter reportedly carried serious charges including sexual harassment, forceful confinement and murder charges against the centre. Soon the court suo motu constituted a high-level team headed by Inspector General of Police Vincent M Paul to inquire into the charges.


The probe team found that several persons were locked in cells in the name of healing. Persons showing violent signs were often injected with unknown drugs by untrained hands. Besides the FIR filed at Koratty police station, the team has also filed a report before the first class judicial magistrate. The team has also recommended a probe into the foreign funding of the healing centre.
When the police team raided the Divine Centre last year it had created a big furore in the state. The ruling CPM and opposition Congress had condemned it in strongest terms. But the High Court had given a green signal to the probe team. The aggrieved Divine Centre had approached the apex court but it upheld the HC order.

 

 

Supreme Court Rejects Catholic Retreat Center’s Plea against investigation
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/5983

www.ucanews.com

New Delhi, May 17, 2007

On May 17, India’s Supreme Court rejected the petition of a Catholic charismatic center seeking a stay on the police probe into its activities.

Divine Retreat Center in the southern state of Kerala petitioned the Supreme Court on March 30. It asked the country’s highest court to halt the police investigation that the state High Court ordered into the center’s activities.

The Supreme Court judges, rejecting the petition, said the police can continue their probe and should complete it as the High Court has directed.

“It’s not fair of the court to stop the ongoing investigation. But if the investigation team wants to arrest any of the officials of the center, the police officials should get prior permission from the Supreme Court,” the judges said.

The judges also clarified that the investigation team has the authority to interrogate any center official for the investigation.

For more than a year, controversies have dogged the facility in Muringoor, a village about 2,560 kilometers south of New Delhi. Vincentian priests manage the popular center, which conducts weekly retreats throughout the year, each attracting more than 10,000 Christians and people of other religions.

Police began investigating the center’s activities after the Kerala High Court ordered the probe on March 10, 2006. The court acted on an anonymous letter and two compact discs it reportedly received. The letter and CDs implicated the center in a series of crimes and irregularities, including murder, rape, foreign exchange violations and running an unlicensed hospital.

The continued presence of police at the center, more than a year later, forced center director Father George Panackal to appeal to the Supreme Court, according to a letter issued by Father Augustine Vallooran, director of the center’s English section.

The petition was filed “with the belief that if there is no objective evidence” against the center, the High Court order “should be given a stay,” said Father Vallooran’s letter, issued on May 9.

On April 30, state police filed charges at the local police station against 10 top officials of the center, including Father Panackal.

The charges come under Indian Penal Code sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, sexual harassment, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence.

The police report said that during the years 1996-2006, as many as 974 unnatural deaths occurred at the center, and the bodies were disposed of without informing the local police. The report alleged that the center forged documents to make the deaths appear natural.

 

 

Muringoor: SC Stays Arrest of Accused
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/6022

New Delhi, The New Indian Express, May 18, 2007

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the arrest of all the 10 accused in the Divine Retreat Centre case.
A Bench comprising Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice B. Sudershan Reddy also said that no custodial interrogation could be made without the permission of the apex court. The Kerala High Court had, on the basis of an anonymous letter, directed an investigation into the affairs of the centre in March 2006.
The petitioner contended that the High Court had passed this order without hearing its version. On his petition, the apex court had issued notice to Kerala and other respondents on April 20. It was further contended that an FIR was registered against the officials of the centre alleging that they had committed offences under Sections 324 of the Indian Penal Code (hurt) 342 (wrongful confinement) 420 (cheating) and under Section 82 of the Mental Health Act. The petitioners sought stay of all further proceedings contending that a special investigating team was constituted within four hours after receiving the apex court notice and this is with an intention to defeat the purpose of the special leave petition.
It was further averred that three witnesses are inimically disposed towards the petitioners and they belong to a rival centre. The FIR stated that more than 900 people died from 1992 to 2007 at the centre.
To this, the petitioners replied in the court that all the inmates of their centre are terminally ill patients. Most of them are suffering from diseases like cancer and AIDS.
There is nothing unnatural if they die. The centre is not a health club, the petitioners argued.

 

Divine Shroud and an F.I.R.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/george-panakkal-of-drc-faces-criminal-allegations/1/155868.html

By M. G. Radhakrishnan, May 28, 2007

Charges of rape and murder levelled against a high-profile Christian spiritual centre in Kerala have brought Congress and CPI(M) together against the police and BJP.

 

CHARGE-SHEET

The FIR against DRC includes the following charges:

There were 974 deaths, not all natural, between 1991 and 2006, at the centre.
Bodies were disposed of without investigation.
People developed mental illnesses after being administered psychotropic drugs.
Patients were kept in forced confinement at the centre.
The DRC’s medical wing does not have the requisite licences.
The centre had obtained pecuniary favours from the government by misrepresenting or withholding facts.

 

It has all the trappings of a sensational criminal story-a high-profile spiritual centre, rocked by allegations of murder, rape, drug abuse. The Divine Retreat Centre (DRC) at Thrissur, Kerala-the country’s largest Christian meditation and healing institution run by the Vincentian Catholic priests-which attracts over 10,000 people every day for its “divine” prayer and faith-healing sessions held simultaneously in seven languages, faces a series of stunning charges in an FIR filed by a special investigation team (SIT) of the Kerala police recently. Criminal cases have been registered against Father George Panackal, director, Father Mathew Thadathil, procurator, and other office-bearers of the DRC, which runs a host of institutions including a general hospital, a mental care home, a home for AIDS patients, an orphanage, a de-addiction centre, an old age centre, a Bible college, a home for widows, and even a marriage bureau.

The charges are not easy to dismiss. The investigation against the 15-year-old centre, headquartered in a four-acre campus near the national highway in Muringur, Chalakudy, was ordered by the Kerala High Court and carried out by an SIT headed by an IGP nominated by the court, with stern warning against any interference by the Government. The court dismissed a complaint filed by the centre against police raids on its premises, home to the sick and elderly. Following this, the centre approached the Supreme Court with a special leave petition against the investigation. Last month, the apex court issued notices to the chief secretary of the state, SIT and the IGP in charge.

The FIR has created havoc in the state as almost all political organisations have expressed displeasure at “attempts to denigrate” the popular and powerful DRC. A few weeks before it was filed, Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary of the ruling CPI(M), had visited the centre and slammed the police raid as “a high-handed act against the centre, which was doing a great, humanitarian task of helping the needy and the sick”. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy
of the Congress also expressed displeasure at the police’s “rude ways towards a centre of meditation”. But organisations attached to BJP have urged authorities to shut down the centre.

It all began with an anonymous letter received by the high court in October 2005. The letter and the compact discs sent along with it contained many serious allegations against the DRC, including rape, suspected murder, financial misappropriation including violation of foreign exchange regulations, and wrongful inclusion of the names of inmates in the electoral list. The most sensational among the charges was the alleged suppression, by the centre, of a complaint made by a former inmate that she was raped by the procurator. It was also alleged that a number of unidentified dead bodies were found in and around the centre.

In response to this, high court judge Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair ordered the police to investigate the charges and also directed an SIT to be constituted under Inspector General Vinson M. Paul. The team conducted raids at DRC in September last year, seizing documents and videotaping the complex. On the basis of testimonials by witnesses against the centre, the FIR includes the following charges: between 1991 and 2006, as many as 974 people died-not all were natural deaths-at the centre and the dead bodies disposed of without investigation; many developed mental illnesses after going to DRC, particularly after unauthorised administration of psychotropic drugs; patients were kept in forced confinement; the centre’s medical institutions have no requisite licences or statutory facilities; and DRC had obtained pecuniary favours from the Government by misrepresenting or withholding facts. Mariyapalana Society, an NGO run by local Catholics, also complained that the centre had tried to receive foreign donations by manipulating documents.

“Everything at DRC is shrouded in mystery. They do not respect laws regarding how to run a hospital or what to do if a death occurs there. They have not given satisfactory explanations for the charges made against them,” says a senior SIT official. But the priests dismiss all charges as baseless. “We strongly feel there is a conspiracy to denigrate the name of the centre,” says Panackal. However, he refuses to divulge the details of the conspiracy, as the case is about to come up in the court. “There could have been 974 deaths at the centre. But don’t forget that at our home for AIDS patients, our old age home and the general hospital, we have at least 400 people on the verge of dying at any point of time,” he says, dismissing the charge that dead bodies were buried without intimating the authorities. The director also cites a report of an earlier police investigation, which had dismissed these charges levelled earlier against the centre. “The IG heading SIT has not visited DRC in the last two years, nor has he met us to find out what we have to say. It is unconstitutional to vest all powers in a police officer without any government control,” he says.

Dr K.P. Hormis, a psychiatrist attached to the centre and a former civil surgeon, denies that drugs were administered without his authorisation, and that there were any unnatural deaths. But does the hospital have the required licence? “We are not running a mental hospital, but a mental care home, for which we have a licence from the local panchayat. We have also applied for Government registration,” says Panackal, adding that DRC hasn’t received any complaint from the state Drugs Control Department, which is in charge of monitoring the use of drugs. According to the priest, the FIR was prepared on the basis of allegations made by witnesses who were long-time opponents of the centre.

The centre also alleges that evidence that proved wrong many of the allegations made in the original anonymous letter to the court is not mentioned in the FIR. “The allegation that a woman was raped and impregnated by a priest at the centre was proved false by a DNA test. The finding by an earlier police investigation that no unnatural deaths had occurred at the centre has also been ignored. It proves the SIT investigation was neither transparent nor honest,” says the director.

DRC says the filing of the FIR also was suspect. It was filed hurriedly on the day the Supreme Court issued notices to the SIT in response to the petition filed by the centre. “Why did they take so long to file the FIR? Why did they file it a day before the case came up in the Supreme Court and got it signed by the magistrate at his home at 10 in the night?” asks Panackal, adding that the police raid was completely highhanded and that the sick inmates were yet to come out of the shock. “They even made a video-film of the AIDS patients here, which is against universal law,” he says.

The FIR has put the political parties which have supported DRC on the defensive. “We are not against the law taking its course. What we had objected to was the high-handedness of the police,” says Vaikom Viswan, convener of the ruling Left Democratic Front. Congress leaders, too, have chosen to lie low. Interestingly, the strongest defence of DRC after the filing of the FIR has come from Janapaksham, a dissident group of BJP. “It is unfair to level baseless allegations against an institution which serves the people,” says its leader K. Raman Pillai, former state president of BJP. While the reputation of the centre is clearly at stake, charges continue to fly thick and fast.

 

 

KCBC Not to Interfere in Divine Retreat Centre Investigations

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/6293

https://www.oneindia.com/2007/06/07/admission-to-self-financing-colleges-to-be-transparent-kcbc-1181225692.html

June 7, 2007

Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) today reiterated that admission to all self-financing professional colleges under the Kerala Catholic Sabha would be transparent and on the basis of merit.

Talking to reporters here, KCBC Secretary General Varghese Chakalakkal said five per cent seats would be reserved for backward communities, upto five per cent for dalit Christians and two per cent for Latin Catholics. […]

Divine Retreat Centre issue

On the Muringoor Divine Centre, Dr. Varghese said as the matter was in Kerala High Court there was no need for the Council to interfere in the issue.

However, as the Centre was under the Ernakulam Archdiocese, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil would probe into the allegations against the Centre, including sexual exploitation of women.

He said KCBC had also constituted a commission to review the functioning of the divine centres.

 

 

Police, Administration clash over Divine Retreat Centre issue

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/police.administration.clash.over.divine.retreat.centre.issue/11255.htm

By Jacob Chatterjee, Thiruvananthapuram, June 23, 2007

A row has flared up in Kerala between the state police and the management of the popular catholic retreat centre, the Divine Retreat Centre, with the police filing criminal charges against 10 top officials including its director Father George Panackal, his close associates and a nun. 
The police have claimed that a total of 974 mysterious deaths, most of them young, took place at the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, Kerala, between 1991 and 2006 and on many occasions the bodies were reportedly disposed of without informing the police, allegedly by forging documents to make them look like natural deaths. 
Charges framed against the centre comes after six months of investigations at the direction of the Kerala High Court, include forceful confinement, causing hurt by poison, cheating and destroying evidences. 
The Kerala High Court, acting suo motu, had ordered a probe into its affairs, following complaints and allegations ranging from mysterious disappearances and murders to violation of foreign exchange rules. 
The retreat centre, which was set up in the late 80’s, attracts thousands of people every week from all religions across the country. 
The centre, which conducts week-long in-house prayer sessions, has appointed several people as preachers. It has also opened branches throughout India. 
The centre, run by the Vincentian Congregation, runs homes for the destitute, drug addicts, AIDS patients and the mentally handicapped, and also hosts spiritual retreats. 
The Muringoor centre falls under the Ernakulam Archdiocese of the Syro Malabar Church. 
According to sources close to the development, an investigating team led by Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul has accused the centre of running a mental hospital without a licence and administering drugs without prescriptions from qualified medical professionals. 
The team allegedly found several persons confined in cells for “healing” and those showing violent signs were often injected with drugs by “untrained” hands.
Besides the first information report filed at Koratty police station, the team has also filed a report before the first class judicial magistrate. The team has also recommended a probe into the foreign funding of the healing centre. 
When the police team raided the Divine Centre last year, both the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) and opposition Congress party condemned it in strongest terms but the High Court gave a green signal to the probe team. 
The charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections against the centre’s director, administrator Father Mathew Thadathil, a nun and seven others include criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence. If found guilty, they may face up to 10 years of hard labour. 
Meanwhile, the centre has alleged a police vendetta after it challenged the High Court-ordered investigation and filed a review petition in the Supreme Court. 
“Our move irritated the investigation team,” which resulted in the charges, Fr. Panackal said. “We will deal with it legally,” the priest added in his statement. He asked supporters to pray for the centre. 
Fr. Panackal had also approached the Supreme Court of India seeking a stay on the police probe into its activities. 
“Not a single family member of the 974 people who died here has raised any doubt,” he said. 
However, the apex court, rejecting the petition, said the police could continue their probe and should complete it as the High Court has directed. 
“It’s not fair of the court to stop the ongoing investigation. But if the investigation team wants to arrest any of the officials of the centre, the police officials should get prior permission from the Supreme Court,” the Supreme Court judges said. 
The judges also clarified that the investigation team has the authority to interrogate any centre official for the investigation. 
Thomas Devaprasad, a journalist-turned-charismatic leader, said he was “anguished” by the “most unfortunate” turn of events. The centre is caught in “controversy and conspiracy,” he added. Without elaborating, he said “time will reveal the conspiracy and expose the guilty.” 
Syro-Malabar Church spokesman Father Paul Thelakat said the Church has “faith in the judicial system and will wait for the law to take its course.” 
“The Church is sad as one of our prime institutions is under attack. It was a centre of hope for thousands of poor people who were shunted aside by society,” Fr. Thalakat added. 
Meanwhile, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said his government was not planning to order any special probe but would follow the court directives. He also rejected the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for immediate closure of the centre. 
In a statement posted on the retreat’s website, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, said it was a “centre of healing and relief for the mentally sick and those abandoned by their own dear ones.” 
“Thousands of patients come here to pray for their healing. A large number of people get healings because of their faith,” he said. 
“Although there were court cases, the doors (of the centre) were left open for all. Anyone could at any time step in. At this Retreat Centre, to my knowledge, nothing is done secretly or under cover of concealment. That is precisely why when the Honourable Court ordered an inquiry, the Director of Divine Retreat Centre boldly declared that they would fully co-operate with the inquiry,” the prelate added. 
“Instead of observing and getting to know the ground realities, it is deplorable that a police investigation trespassing all the limits of decency and respectability was carried out. The media projection of the recent police investigation at the Divine Retreat Centre is itself despicable,” the cardinal said.

 

 

Permission to uplink TV channel “Jeevan TV” withdrawn

Source: Information & Broadcasting Ministry Press Release

September 21, 2007
The Government has withdrawn the permission of M/s. Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd. to uplink their TV channel “Jeevan TV” with effect from 11.9.2007.
“Jeevan TV” channel was also carrying News & Current Affairs programme. Therefore, M/s. Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd. had applied to conform to the revised guidelines. But Ministry of Home Affairs did not grant security clearance to the company to uplink a news & current affairs TV channel.
Accordingly, no DTH service provider & cable operator is to carry this channel on their DTH/Cable network.
The company was permitted to uplink this channel from India on 18.7.2002 as per uplinking guidelines at that time. Subsequently, Government had introduced separate guidelines for permission for uplinking of news & current affairs TV channels from India and all existing channels, which were carrying news & current affairs in their programme content were asked to conform to these guidelines.

 

Uplinking permission to Malayalam channel Jeevan TV withdrawn

http://www.indiantelevision.com/headlines/y2k7/sep/sep324.php

New Delhi, September 21, 2007

Malayalam channel Jeevan TV, which has been telecasting since July 2002 has been refused permission with effect from 11 September to continue uplinking in India as it is carrying news and current affairs programmes. Promoted by the Catholic Church of Kerala, the channel had failed to get clearance from the Home Ministry for telecast news and current affairs.

The channel had initially applied for uplinking permission in 2002 under the guidelines prevalent at the time. However, the government had in November 2005 promulgated separate guidelines for news and current affairs channels and Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd had been asked to apply for fresh permission as it was also carrying news & current affairs.
The channel had made a fresh application to conform to the revised guidelines, but failed to get security clearance.
The information and broadcasting Ministry has therefore directed that no DTH service provider and cable operator will carry this channel on their DTH/Cable network.

When the government promulgated separate uplinking guidelines for news and current affairs, all existing channels carrying news and current affairs in their programme content were asked to conform to these guidelines.
When it first got permission to uplink, Jeevan TV had become the fifth Malayalam news channel in the country. The others were the regional Doordarshan Kendra, apart from Asianet, Surya and Kairali.

The channel was formally launched on 14 July 2002 and was being run from a studio and uplinking centre located in Kerala’s commercial capital, Kochi. Jeevan had then claimed it would offer programmes that entertain while stressing the importance of moral values. News and education shows dominated the channel’s programming.

 

 

Uplink facility for Jeevan TV channel withdrawn

http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/22/stories/2007092260730400.htm

Special Correspondent, New Delhi, September 22, 2007

No security clearance to uplink news and current affairs channel

Channel says it has secured a stay for two months beginning September 17

Broadcasting Ministry says that it is unaware of the stay order

The Government on Friday announced that it had withdrawn the permission of Malayalam infotainment channel Jeevan TV to uplink from September 11. However, Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd.

(JTCL) managers said that they had secured a stay on the order from the Kerala High Court for two months beginning September 17.

According to a statement issued by the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry, the permission to uplink had been withdrawn as the Union Home Ministry had not granted security clearance to the JTCL to uplink a news and current affairs TV channel. Till late evening, the Ministry maintained that it was unaware of the stay order.

As per the Government’s order, no Direct-to-Home service provider and cable operator should offer this channel on their network. The channel was allowed to uplink in July 2002 and has been on the air since. However, it was asked to conform to the new uplinking guidelines that were issued in 2005 for news and current affairs channels.

Meanwhile, JTCL Chief Operating Officer Christopher George told The Hindu from Kochi that the Kerala High Court had on September 17 stayed the Government’s order and allowed the channel to uplink and downlink for another two months. Reading out a prepared statement, he said: “The channel has been making all efforts to regularise some of its company affairs which have arisen after the introduction of the new uplinking guidelines.”

Conceding that only the condition pertaining to security clearance was pending, Mr. George said steps had been initiated to meet this requirement also. The issue of security clearance apparently arises primarily because of the network’s large shareholder base.

 

 

Uplinking permission to Jeevan TV withdrawn

http://www.exchange4media.com/e4m/news/fullstoryband.asp?section_id=6&news_id=27853&tag=22758

September 22, 2007

The Government has withdrawn the permission to Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd to uplink their Malayalam TV channel Jeevan TV in India with effect from September 11. Promoted by the Kerala Catholic Church, the channel had failed to get clearance from the Home Ministry for telecast of news and current affairs.

Jeevan TV was permitted to uplink this channel from India in 2002 as per the uplinking guidelines at that time. Subsequently, the Government introduced separate guidelines for permission for uplinking of news and current affairs TV channels from India and all existing channels which were carrying news and current affairs in their programme content were asked to conform to these guidelines.

The channel had submitted a fresh application to conform to the revised guidelines, but Ministry of Home Affairs did not grant security clearance to the company to uplink news and current affairs on the channel.

Accordingly, no DTH service provider and cable TV operator can carry Jeevan TV on their DTH/cable network.

 

 

Jeevan TV

http://www.mapsofindia.com/kochi/television-channels/jeevan-tv.html

The Jeevan TV is one of the premier satellite television channels that are popular among the people of Kochi.

 

 

After the broadcasting of the Asianet satellite television channel, the first satellite Malayalam television channel, in the year 1993, a couple of other channels started making their way in the Malayalam television. The Jeevan TV of Kochi is one of them.
The Jeevan TV at Kochi was established in the year 2002. This well-known television channel is one such channel aired for the Malayalam-speaking viewers that caters to the interests of an entire family in Kochi. The office of Jeevan TV is located at Palarivattom in the city of Kochi. The PIN code of this office is 682 025.
The main focus of this channel called Jeevan TV is to entertain the people. The programs that come on air on the Jeevan TV of Kochi are telecast keeping in mind all the age groups of people in the Malayalam-speaking society.
The people behind each and every program on the channel of Jeevan TV in Kochi are very cautious of maintaining the Malayalam cultural integrity. They do not broadcast any show or scene that might hurt the socio-cultural sentiments of the viewers.
If you are interested to get in touch with the authorities of this newspaper to get more information about the television channel or for some personal interest, then you can dial the contact numbers of the office of Jeevan TV. There are two telephone numbers, which are 2347671 and 91-484-2343344.

 

 

Jeevan TV

Source: Konkani Catholics Digest no. 1219 dated September 23, 2007

By Austine Crasta, Owner-Moderator, Konkani Catholics yahoo group

Jeevan TV is a 24 hours Malayalam television channel which if I’m not mistaken was initiated (?) by the Catholic Church in Kerala and which enjoyed the active support of the Divine Retreat Centre. During my retreats at Divine, the Jeevan TV project would be mentioned by Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C., the director of the English section of Divine. Video shootings of preaching, Mass, etc. too would take place within Divine. In fact I may still have some of the promotional material including a VCD I brought back then.
I believe the 24 hour Malayalam channel was launched somewhere in July-August 2002 with its headquarters at Palarivattom, Kochi Kerala. It is now described as “the complete family channel”
Syro-Malabar Archbishop Emeritus Jacob Thoomkuzhy and Archbishop Andrews Thazhath is the Honorary Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively while Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally is the Chairman.
Mr. Baby Mathew Somatheeram is the Managing Director and Fr. Augustine Vallooran too is one of the co-Chairman on the 15 member board of Directors.
According to IANS, “The government has refused permission to Malayalam TV channel Jeevan TV to continue uplinking in India as it reportedly violated guidelines by telecasting news and current affairs programmes… The channel had initially applied for uplinking permission in 2002 under the guidelines prevalent at the time. However, after the government promulgated separate guidelines for news and current affairs channels in November 2005, Jeevan Telecasting Corporation Ltd was asked to apply for fresh permission as it was also carrying news and current affairs programmes… Jeevan TV started broadcasting family entertainment programmes and claimed to have blended them with moral education. But soon news and education shows became the staple fare of the Malayalam channel.”
“Within hours of I&B ministry issuing a statement in this regard”, The Hindu said, “Jeevan Telecasting Corporation in a faxed statement from its Kochi headquarters to PTI said the ministry order has been ‘stayed by the High Court of Kerala on September 17.’
“In his order Justice Antony Dominic of Kerala High Court has stayed I&B ministry order for two months and permitted to continue the uplinking and downlinking,” the statement from Christopher George, Chief Operating Officer, Jeevan Telecasting Corporation, said.
When confronted with the channel’s claim, senior ministry officials, not wanting to be named, said they have not received any copy of the court order. “Ask them to produce one if there is any such directive from the court and we will honour it”, a Ministry official said. This is from what I gathered from various stories. We will have to wait and watch the developments.

 

 

63 priests in Kerala face criminal charges

Offences include murder, rape, molestation, assault, abduction, theft and cheating
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_63-priests-in-kerala-face-criminal-charges_1128496
http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/1712-63-priests-kerala-face-criminal-charges.html

By Don Sebastian, Thiruvananthapuram, October 19, 2007

Forget the sheep, the Church has a tough task ahead in reclaiming its lost shepherds. If the data released by the Kerala Police is any indication, the weeds have spread among the wheat.
As many as 63 Christian priests in the state face criminal charges pending against them, reveals documents yielded as per the Right to Information Act.
Murder, attempt to murder, rape, molestation, assault, abduction, theft, break-in, cheating, almost every offence under the Indian Penal Code, and of course, the Ten Commandments, has been committed by the deviant priests. Worse, the biblical whitewashed tombs are still at the helm of affairs in parishes.


Going by the crime records of the past seven years, two priests have been accused of murder while ten are charged with attempt to murder. Yet another is booked for aiding in a murder. Joseph Antony and Maria Lal Manjali are accused of homicide.
Mathew Jacob, ET Johnson, KP Mathai, Joy T Varghese, Jiju Varghese, Reji are accused of attempt to murder in cases registered in different police stations. Giving them company is Paul Payyappilly, parish priest of Pavaratti St Joseph’s Church, held under Explosives Act.
Priests also excel in crimes of passion. Five of them are rape accused.
Jose Thadathil and TJ Joy, a CSI parish priest, are just two. Jose works in the Divine Retreat Centre, a pilgrim centre near Thrissur facing criminal inquiry ordered by the Kerala High Court. Sisters Viola and Nirmala are also involved in the case.
Father Joseph in Kollam is caught in an immoral traffic case. Ernakulam Infant Jesus Church vicar Thomas is an accused in a molestation case while Father Paul Vilangumpara is accused of molestation and abduction.
Yet another priest in coastal Thiruvananthapuram is accused of rape.
Most of the priests have incurred cheating charges against them as part of their managerial functions.
Fr Thomas Pothanamuzhi, Fr Thomas Kizhakkedath and Fr Ouseph, the principal, manager and former principal of St Aloysius College, Edathuva, have been accused of breach of trust.
A similar case has been charged in 2005 against Andrews Thekkekkandam, a vicar in Thamarasseri, the nerve centre of the Catholic Church’s present tirade against the Left government.
As many as five priests are accused of theft and break-in, taking the total number of the seeds on rocky ground to 63. This list excludes the suspects in the sensational murder of a nun in Kottayam in 1992.
Earlier, the CBI had taken two priests and two nuns to undergo truth serum tests in connection with the death of Sister Abhaya, who was found dead in a well on the premises of Pius X Convent, Kottayam.

 

 

Retreat Centers Welcome Bishops’ Decision to Check Retreat Activities

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/9170

https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2007/12/21/retreat-centers-welcome-bishops-decision-to-check-retreat-activities&post_id=28953

Thiruvananthapuram, December 21, 2007

Some retreat preachers in Kerala have welcomed a plan of regional bishops to develop guidelines to make sure charismatic retreat centers do not deviate from Catholic teachings.
“We welcome the decision to have guidelines for the charismatic retreat centers,” said Father Augustine Vallooran, who directs English retreats at Divine Retreat Centre, one of Asia’s largest retreat centers.
The Vincentian priest told UCA News on Dec. 19 the bishops’ decision will help end the bishops’ apprehensions about retreat centers in the southern Indian state, where the charismatic movement began about 30 years ago.
At the end of the annual meeting of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, held Dec. 12-13, an official announced the bishops’ plan to issue guidelines that would impact all Catholic retreat centers in Kerala within three months.
“It’s good for all,” commented Father John Kakkat of Chittoor Retreat Centre, which functions under Ernakulam-Angamaly Syro-Malabar archdiocese.
The council brings together 31 bishops from the three rites that constitute the Catholic Church in Kerala. The Latin rite, introduced by European missioners in the 16th century, has 11 dioceses. The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara, both of them Oriental Churches that follow the Syrian liturgy, have 15 and five dioceses, respectively.
After announcing the plan, Father Stephen Alathara, the council’s deputy secretary, told UCA News the bishops have formed a commission to study how retreat centers are functioning. He said many of Kerala’s approximately 1,000 Catholic retreat centers operate without the knowledge of Church authorities and their preaching sometimes deviates from authentic Catholic teachings. The state has about 6 million Christians in a population of 31 million.
Father Alathara said controversy involving one retreat center forced the bishops to pay attention to these centers. “Control is necessary,” he added.
Father Paul Thelakat, the Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson and a retreat preacher, said the bishops worry that some charismatic centers are “sowing the seeds of Pentecostalism” among Catholics. “There is a feeling” several centers preach “a health-and-wealth Gospel” that promotes a “consumer spirituality” and in many cases deviates from authentic Catholic teachings, he said.
Such preaching sometimes denies “rationality in faith matters, giving undue stress to wonders and healings, leading to superstitions,” and sometimes such preachers interpret Scripture out of context, he pointed out.
Father Thelakat estimates about 15 percent of Catholics in recent years have joined Pentecostal Churches. Kerala’s bishops, fearing laypeople may equate the charismatic movement with Pentecostalism, wish to “guide and direct these centers in the true spirit of the age-old tradition of the Church,” he said.
One Catholic charismatic leader says the guidelines should not control such centers. Thomas Devaprasad, a journalist-turned-charismatic leader, told UCA News “strict control” would “kill the spirit of charismatic movement.” He said he welcomes the plan, but the guidelines should be “positive, not negative.”


Devaprasad also said he is against bishops “institutionalizing charismatic movement.” If it aims to interfere in the daily administration and activities, it would destroy the centers, he warned. Retreat centers in Kerala manage without “any financial help” from dioceses, he said, and the guidelines would choke these centers if they are meant to control funds flowing to the centers.

 

In Konkani Catholics Digest no. 1325 dated December 28, 2007:

Re: KERALA: Bishops to Check Retreat Centre’s Teachings

Posted by: “Fr. Vincent Barboza” konkanicatholics@gmail.com 

Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:15 pm (PST)

Dear KC members,
I am happy the Bishops of Kerala are coming out with guidelines for Retreat Centres in Kerala. I wish in other states also Bishops will take this step to check the teachings that are given in the retreat centres.
Besides retreat centres, there are individual prayer groups operating in the diocese which are not under any authorities and are not accountable to any authorities. These groups claim to be Catholic but operate independently from the Catholic Church.
In some of these centres and groups “seeds of Pentecostalism” is sown and health and wealth gospel is preached. Much emphasis is not given to Catholic Faith. In the bargain people leave the Church and join other denominations to get similar experience. They also support financially preachers promoting prosperity gospel.
I was suggesting one Charismatic retreat preacher to include apologetic teachings in his preachings which will help the people to be grounded in the Catholic Faith but he refused. He feels Jesus’ experience is enough to keep them back in the church. We need to teach our people to love Jesus – and also His Church. –Fr. Vincent Barboza, Mumbai

 

 

SC Reserves Orders in Divine Retreat Centre Case

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/9835

http://lankacharisrenewal.blogspot.in/2008_02_13_archive.html

New Delhi, Express News Service, February 6, 2008

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its orders in the Divine Retreat Centre case.
A Bench comprising Justice S H Kapadia and Justice B Sudershan Reddy heard at length the submissions of senior counsel P. P. Rao and G Prakash for the State of Kerala. Anil Diwan and Romy Chacko presented their case for the petitioners from Divine Retreat Centre.
The Divine Retreat Centre averred that it was established and managed by Vincentian Congregation and that it is the largest Retreat Centre in the world. Since 1990, over 10 million pilgrims from all over the world has attended retreats there and about 3,500 people are living permanently at the centre.
The organization is currently running a retreat centre at Muringoor, Thrissur, Kerala. The petitioner contended that an anonymous letter was written to the High Court based on which the High Court ordered an investigation without affording them an opportunity to present their case.
The Kerala High Court directed the constitution of a Special Investigation Team on March 10, 2006 to enquire into the allegations. Consequently, a Special Investigation Team headed by Vincent Paul, IPS, started the probe and filed an FIR on April 28, 2007. The High Court also said that the state government should investigate everything, including foreign exchange issues. The petitioners stated during the course of the hearings that the FIR named 10 persons and out of them, eight are only the helpers.
The Bench has tagged the petition filed by one Jomon Jose on the same issue and allowed him as an intervener. Jomon sought intervention of the Apex Court to set in motion the competent authorities to regulate and prohibit the alleged irregular and illegal activities carried out at the petitioner’s Centre.
The Bench directed the parties to file their written submissions within a week.

 

 

SC sets aside Kerala HC order on probe against Divine Retreat Centre
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/10350

New Delhi, PTI, March 11, 2008

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Kerala High Court order relating to probe by a Special Investigation Team of the state police into various allegations against the ‘Divine Retreat Centre’ run by Christian priests at Muringoor in Thrissur district. A Bench comprising Justices S H Kapadia and B Sudershan Reddy directed that the investigation be handed over to Kerala Police which will submit a report on the probe conducted so far to a magistrate.
The High Court on March 10, 2006 had issued the direction while initiating suo motu proceedings on the basis of anonymous letters, CDs and paper cuttings in which allegations regarding suspicious deaths, rapes and siphoning off of funds by the divine Centre had been made.
The High Court had said it was open to the SIT to resort to scientific analysis including DNA testing and Polygraph tests to unravel the truth.
It had also directed the SIT to inquire into the role of IAS/IPS officers in various matters relating to the Divine Centre, including publication of in-house magazines.

 

 

“Do not treat anonymous letters as PIL”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/ldquoDo-not-treat-anonymous-letters-as-PILrdquo/article15182786.ece

By
J. Venkatesan, March 12, 2008

Supreme Court allows appeal
“High Courts cannot be converted into Station Houses”

Such letters must be placed before the Chief Justice
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that High Court judges cannot treat anonymous letters and petitions listing allegations against individuals or institutions as public interest litigation and order suo motu investigation.
A Bench of Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice B. Sudershan Reddy said, “Setting criminal law in motion is fraught with serious consequences, which cannot lightly be undertaken by the High Court even in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The High Court cannot direct investigation by constituting a special investigation team on the strength of anonymous petitions. The High Courts cannot be converted into Station Houses.”
Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Reddy said, “No judicial order can ever be passed by any court without providing a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the person likely to be affected by such order and particularly when such order results in drastic consequences of affecting one’s own reputation.”
The Bench said, “The individual who moves the court for judicial redress in cases of PIL must be acting bona fide with a view to vindicating the cause of justice and not for any personal gain or private profit or of the political motivation or other oblique consideration. The [High] Court should not allow itself to be activised at the instance of such person and must reject his application at the threshold, whether it be in the form of a letter addressed to the court or even in the form of a regular petition filed in court.”
In the instant case, Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor in Thrissur district, Kerala, was aggrieved over the suo motu probe ordered by a single judge of the Kerala High Court in respect of certain allegations contained in an anonymous letter addressed to him. The present appeal by the Centre is directed against that judgment.
Allowing the appeal, the Bench said: “History teaches us that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardised when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day and assume primary responsibility to resolve the issues which are otherwise not entrusted to it by adopting procedures which are otherwise not known.”
The Bench said “there is heavy duty cast upon the constitutional courts to protect themselves from the onslaught unleashed by unscrupulous litigants masquerading as public interest litigants. The individual judges ought not to entertain communications and letters personally addressed to them and initiate action on the judicial side. The letters are required to be placed before the Chief Justice for his consideration. Each judge cannot decide for himself as to what communication should be entertained for setting the law in motion be it in PIL, or in any jurisdiction.”
In this case, the single judge of the High Court ought not to have entertained the anonymous petition, contents of which remain unverified and made it the basis for setting the law in motion against the appellant as he was not entrusted with the judicial duty of disposing of PIL matters.

 

 

Truth Triumphs – Supreme Court quashes all allegations against Divine Retreat Centre

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/10609

March 31, 2008

From: Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Director – English & Other Language Retreats, Divine Retreat Centre
Truth could no longer be contained in the tombstone. For over 18 years, Divine Retreat Centre has been preaching this message of hope in Jesus. This year as we prepare to roll the stone away in our celebration of Easter, the Lord removed a dark heavy cloud that has been hanging over the Centre.
As we celebrate Easter, the grand feast of the victory of the Lord over evil, we reach out to you who have been praying for and supporting us here at Divine Retreat Centre. We have a GREAT reason to rejoice for our God has intervened in our struggle against the forces of evil and won the battle for us.
It has been exactly two years of continued harassment and malicious propaganda in the media and at various quarters by fundamentalist groups – a consequence of the Kerala High Court’s order constituting a high level police enquiry about us on the basis of an anonymous letter. We waited patiently on firm faith for God’s time to intervene. Meanwhile, fervent prayers were rising to heaven from the hearts of thousands of people all over the world, who know us personally and appreciate our work for the Lord. God’s decisive intervention came on 11 March 2008, in the form of the judgement of the Supreme Court, setting aside the order of the High Court as anti-constitutional and against all natural justice.

‘IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO IS AGAINST US?’ (ROMANS 8:31)
It was on 10 March 2006, the High Court of Kerala, upon receiving an anonymous letter containing false allegations against Divine Retreat Centre, took up the case ‘suo motu’ (on its own initiative) and ordered an inquiry into the affairs of our Retreat Centre. A Special Investigation Team was formed for this purpose.

We, at Divine Retreat Centre, had welcomed the investigation and have been giving it our full cooperation. However, we had no inkling of what was to come. The police team began to harass us and disturb the smooth functioning of the daily services of our retreats.
We were especially shocked by the humiliating manner in which the police raids were carried out in the Centre on 30 September and 01 October 2006. What pained us the most was the way the sick were subjected to torturous harassment. Even the AIDS patients and the mentally challenged were not spared! We were deeply grieved at this cruelty.
After 21 months of rigorous investigation, the police team were still not able to come up with any evidence against our Retreat Centre. Thus, the contents of the anonymous letter on the basis of which this entire investigation was ordered, were proved baseless and wrongly motivated.

‘THE NATIONS SHALL SEE YOUR VINDICATION’ (ISAIAH 62:2)
It is at this juncture that we moved the Supreme Court with the intention of putting a stop to this unending harassment of the investigation process and unbridled media slander. On 11 March 2008, the Division bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Honourable Justices S.H. Kapadia and B. Sudershan Reddy gave the verdict. They had closely examined the report of the Inquiry of the Police Team and verified that the allegations levelled in the anonymous letter were all baseless.
On a deeper study of the matter, they ruled that High Court judges cannot treat anonymous letters containing allegations against individuals or institutions as Public Interest Litigation and order suo motu’ investigation. The judges further noted that ‘setting criminal law in motion is fraught with serious consequences, which cannot lightly be taken by the High Court. The High Court cannot direct investigation by constituting a special investigation team on the strength of anonymous petitions. The High Court cannot be converted into Station Houses.’
The Court was grieved that even natural justice was not shown to the Divine Retreat Centre by the High Court as the judge instituted the police inquiry without giving an opportunity to it to explain its position. The judges noted, ‘No judicial order can even be passed by any Court without providing a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the person likely to be affected by such order and particularly when such order results in drastic consequences of affecting one’s own reputation.’ Indeed, the reputation of the Centre had taken a beating as a result of the High Court order and the consequent police inquiry. The Supreme Court shares the pain of the Divine Retreat Centre and in fact of all right thinking people here. It stated, ‘Institution’s own reputation is a priceless treasure. History teaches us that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardized when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day and assume primary responsibility to resolve the issues which are otherwise not entrusted to it.’
In a tone of warning to the whole of the judiciary, the judgement declares, ‘There is heavy duty cast upon the constitutional courts to protect themselves from the onslaught unleashed by unscrupulous litigants masquerading as public interest litigants. The individual judges ought not to entertain communications and letters personally addressed to them and initiate action on the judicial side. The letters are required to be placed before the Chief Justice for his consideration. Each judge cannot decide for himself as to what communication should be entertained for setting the law in notion be it in Public Interest Litigation, or any jurisdiction.’
Hence the Supreme Court ruled that the High Court judge ought not to have entertained the anonymous petition and ordered the police inquiry, without first making sure that it was ‘not for any personal gain or private profit or of the political motivation or other oblique consideration.’
The Division Bench means it is a landmark verdict – it concluded the judgment stating, ‘Since the question is one of general importance, we should direct the copies of this judgment should be sent to the High Courts in all the States.’
In the Providence of God, the heartache we endured has become the saving grace for our country, especially for those who will be oppressed mercilessly by forces unscrupulous to use the sacred judiciary system of the country for their evil designs, As Joseph of the Old Testament consoled his brothers, we too can realize, ‘As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’ (Genesis 50:20)

‘HER VINDICATION GOES FORTH AS BRIGHTNESS’ (ISAIAH 62:1)
The Press as well as the religious and political leaders have hailed the verdict and celebrated it as the triumph of truth.
Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese and President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference, in welcoming the verdict, said that the ruling of the Supreme Court has brought spiritual and mental solace to the faithful and to all right thinking people.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated, in its press release, that the Supreme Court verdict is the triumph of truth and justice. The Bishops further pointed out that it is folly to imagine that lies and false allegations would succeed for long. The verdict has helped to bring to light the true facts about the great humanitarian service carried out by the Retreat Centre bringing great peace of mind and spiritual consolation to millions especially the sick and the suffering. The verdict is welcomed as recognition of the charitable works of the Catholic Church as a whole. This press release was signed by the President of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference – Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, Vice-President – Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios and Secretary – Archbishop Andrews Thazhath.
Mr. K. M. Mani, the Chairman of the Kerala Congress Party stated that the verdict is a feather in the cap for the Indian Judiciary as well as a decisive recognition of the noble activities of Divine Retreat Centre by the Supreme Court.
Major Archbishop Mar Baselios Cimas Catholica Bawa, has declared the verdict has proved that however severely persecuted, the ultimate victory will be for the truth. Divine Retreat Centre which is widely respected by people of all faiths was severely maligned by certain groups with vested interests. However the verdict has vindicated the Centre before all the people.


As I pen this message of great jubilation, we are still a few days away from Easter. Joy overwhelms us as we gratefully remember your unstinting prayerful support for us all through those hours of trial. Together then, let us reaffirm our faith in the Resurrection -in the ultimate triumph of good over evil!

 

 

Police Team Closes Probe into Asia’s Largest Catholic Retreat Center

http://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2008/04/11/police-team-closes-probe-into-asias-largest-catholic-retreat-center&post_id=29570

April 11, 2008

Police have formally closed their probe into the activities of a popular Catholic retreat center in Kerala state, southern India.

“We have wound up the investigation. Our job is over,” Vinson M. Paul, a senior police official who headed a special investigation team, told UCA News on April 9. He had submitted his team´s report to the Kerala High Court two days earlier.

On March 11, the Indian Supreme Court directed the team to end its probe into activities of the Vincentian-run Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor, a village near Trichur in Kerala, 2,565 kilometers south of New Delhi. The investigation team began the probe a year earlier under direction from the Kerala High Court, the state´s top judicial authority.

Paul, a Catholic, confirmed that his team ended the High Court-ordered investigation after the Supreme Court directed it to do so. He refused to divulge details of the probe report.

Allegations leveled against the retreat center in an anonymous letter were the basis for the police investigation the Kerala High Court ordered on March 10, 2006. The letter and two compact discs the court reportedly received, implicated the center in a series of crimes and irregularities including murder, rape, foreign-exchange violations and running an unlicensed hospital.

The Supreme Court, in its decision ordering an end to the investigation, also criticized the lower court for ordering the probe based on an anonymous letter.

Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson for the Syro-Malabar Church, the Kerala-based Oriental-rite Church that monitors the center, welcomed the end to the controversy. According to him, the High Court order to probe Asia´s largest Catholic spirituality center was an improper move that set a bad precedence.

Father Augustine Vallooran, who directs retreats in English at the center, expressed happiness that the case is closed. “We have a great reason to rejoice, for our God has intervened in our struggle against the forces of evil and won the battle for us,” he told UCA News on April 9. God has answered the “fervent prayers from thousands of people” across the world, who know “us personally and appreciate the center´s works,” he added.

According to the Vincentian priest, the center welcomed the probe and cooperated with it. “However, we had no inkling of what was to come. The police team began to harass us and disturb the smooth functioning of the daily services of our retreats,” he recounted. Father Vallooran also pointed out that after 21 months of “rigorous investigation,” the police team could find no evidence against the center. “It was at this juncture we moved the Supreme Court to stop the unending harassment and unbridled media slander,” he explained. He said the Supreme Court verdict has set guidelines for courts to follow in handling public interest litigation.

Another person to welcome the latest development is Major Archbishop Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of Trivandrum. The head of the Syro-Malankara Church, another Kerala-based Oriental-rite Church, said some vested interests had “severely maligned” the retreat center, which has won respect from people of all religions. The final outcome proved again that truth will triumph, he added. Trivandrum is the former name of Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital.

K.M. Mani, a former Kerala minister and a Catholic, hailed the Supreme Court verdict as recognition of the Divine Retreat Centre´s services.

 

 

INDIA: Catholic retreat centre accused of mass killings, rape, etc.

http://www.alliancesupport.org/news/archives/002321.html
EXTRACT

By Rory Connor, May 23, 2008


After two years of controversy, the Indian Supreme Court recently quashed a case by the police in Kerala (South India) against a Catholic Retreat centre. The charges against the centre were based on an anonymous letter and included causing 974 “unnatural deaths”, rape, foreign exchange violations and running an unlicensed hospital! The reality behind the witch-hunt is a claim by Hindu radicals that the Vincentian priests who run the Retreat centre are engaged in the large scale conversion of Hindus. The (presumable) reality behind the false murder claims is that the care of AIDS patients is one of the many charitable activities carried out by the Vincentians.
QUOTE: “Our investigations have revealed that the Divine center is involved in large-scale religious conversions,” Rajasekharan added. Other allegations against the center, he added, include murder and money laundering. He said his front would continue the campaign against the retreat center until it folds up.
As far as I know Hindu radicals are not known for running hospitals or caring for widows and AIDS patients. In that they resemble their anti-clerical counterparts in Ireland. The latter have also made numerous false murder allegations against the Catholic Church and especially against the Christian Brothers, whose particular vocation is to serve the poor.

 

(A) Court Quashes Inquiry Into World’s Largest Retreat Centre in Kerala
“The Tablet”, by Anto Akkara, 12 April 2008  
Supporters and associates of the Divine Retreat Centre in southern Kerala state, believed to be the largest retreat centre in the world, are jubilant after the quashing by the federal Supreme Court of a controversial case against the centre.
“This is a holy place and it is a shame that police have been conducting such an inquiry against it at the orders of the [Kerala] court,” P. Aravindakshan, a Hindu who attended a week-long retreat at the Catholic centre in mid-March, told The Tablet.
Upholding the plea on behalf of the centre, run by Vincentian priests, the highest Indian court ruled that the inquiry ordered by Kerala High Court against the centre, on the basis of an anonymous letter by a former woman resident and allegations of 974 “unnatural” deaths, was illegal. The two-year high-level police inquiry led by a Special Investigation Team of 50 police officers was accordingly quashed.
“We are happy this headache is over,” Fr Mathew Thadathil, administrator of the centre, said. Fr Thadathil was made to under-go a DNA test to disprove a rape charge against him.

(B) Supreme Court Halts Probe into Kerala Retreat Centre
Khaleej Times Online, by our correspondent, 12 March 2008

Trivandrum
– The Supreme Court yesterday ordered an end to the investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment, mysterious deaths and foreign exchange violations levelled against Muringoor Divine Centre, Asia’s largest Catholic retreat centre, in Trichur district of Kerala.
A division bench comprising Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Sudarshan Reddy directed the special investigation team constituted by the high court under Inspector General of Police Vincent M. Paul to stop all proceedings.
The direction came on an appeal filed by centre director Fr John Panackal against the high court order initiating suo motu proceedings on an anonymous letter complaining about criminal and anti-social activities taking place at the centre.
The apex court pointed out that as per section 482 of criminal procedure code, the Kerala High Court has no right to entrust a special team to order a probe against the Divine Centre based on an anonymous letter.
The division bench observed that the court could do so in special circumstances with the approval of the Chief Justice. The judges have directed the SIT to hand over the report about the investigations so far to the local circle inspector.
The police had filed criminal charges against 10 top officials of the centre, including Fr Panackal, centre administrator, Father Mathew Thadathil, a nun and seven others.
The charges were criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence.
The first information report (FIR) filed by the SIT cited 974 unnatural deaths in the centre between 1996 and 2006. It alleged that the centre had forged documents to make the deaths natural. The bodies were disposed off without informing local police. The dead included several young men and women.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC) has hailed the Supreme Court judgment terming it a victory of truth and justice. A KCBC spokesman said that the charges levelled against the centre were the result of a well-planned move to malign the centre serving the poor.

 

Police break bible racket in Kerala

http://www.ucanews.com/2009/11/24/police-break-bible-racket-in-kerala/

Thiruvananthapuram, November 24, 2009

Kerala police say they have broken a bible-smuggling racket that has been selling copies of the book on the black market. “They stole bibles from the printer and sold them at knocked-down prices,” senior police official Vinson Paul told UCA News. “It was a thriving business.”
Police arrested and charged Selva Raj, 36, on Nov. 23 following a complaint from the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council (KCBC). The council had been tipped off by Church people that the bible KCBC was selling for 100 rupees was available on the streets for 70 rupees. But Raj, who had 30 bibles on him, was “only a salesman who may be getting 10 rupees a copy,” Paul said. “He is only the end of long chain” in which hundreds may be involved, he added.
Police suspect the racket has been going on for years and that some of the printer’s employees are involved. “The investigation is progressing,” Paul said.
The bishops have a standing contract with Divine Printing Press to print copies of the Malayalam-language bible. Each print order is for a minimum of 100,000 copies, and some years they had ordered two extra print-runs.
The press is owned and managed by Divine Retreat Center, run by Vincentian priests. KCBC spokesman Father Stephen Alathara said he suspects some managers and workers helped print more copies and smuggle them out. The KCBC Bible Commission, headed by Bishop George Punnakottil of Kothamangalam, has been campaigning to make the Bible available in every Catholic family.
He said the Church has no means to identify the smuggled bibles because they and the official ones look the same in every respect.

 

 

SIT findings point to major irregularities

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/20166

http://expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=SIT+findings+point+to+major+irregularities&artid=j/sJIW0zOjA=&SectionID=1ZkF/jmWuSA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=X7s7i%7CxOZ5Y=&SEO=DRCM,+IG+Vinson+M+Paul,+SIT,+Koratty+Police

By Anil S., New Indian Express, Kochi, December 19, 2009
The Special Investigation Team probing the allegations raised against the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, (DRCM) has revealed major irregularities in the functioning of the centre.
The authorities of the institution had come under fire following allegations of sexual offences, missing of persons under mysterious circumstances, nepotism by certain officials and inflow of funds in violation of foreign exchange regulations.
Nearly a year after the Supreme Court quashed the SIT, therefore nullifying its findings, the findings of the SIT have come out, indicating high-level misappropriations at the DRCM.
The SIT, headed by IG Vinson M Paul, which was constituted as per a directive issued by the Kerala High Court, was later quashed by the SC citing certain technical reasons.
The SIT investigations into missing persons cases, unnatural deaths and sexual offences have revealed that “unauthorised stupefying drugs were administered on the inmates for various reasons, in support of which the sleuths have gathered evidences.
Following the administration of the drugs, some of the inmates were reported to have lost their lives, while some others went mentally ill,” said the report.
One of the widely discussed incidents probed by the SIT was the missing of Celine Lopez, 35, of Alappuzha, from the DRCM, who was serving as a caretaker there. The case was first investigated by the Koratty Police.
“During the investigation, the SIT collected evidence sufficient enough to suspect that Celine was having physical intimacy with a person at the DRCM and got pregnant from that relationship.
On August 22, 2000, Celine reportedly requested the in-charge of the old-age home at the DRCM to allow her to go home, apparently forced by certain developments at the Centre. Subsequently, Celine went missing under mysterious circumstances,” stated the SIT report.
Experts point out that though the SIT was quashed by the SC, there was scope for a fresh investigation into the case. Earlier, relatives of Celine had approached the court seeking a CBI enquiry into the case.
“Those who were running the DRCM were reportedly administering stupefying drugs on persons who turned violent and on those who disobeyed their instructions,” the report stated.

 

 

Police told to restart Retreat Centre Probe

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/20410

https://www.ucanews.com/2010/01/18/police-told-to-restart-retreat-center-probe/

January 18, 2010

The High Court of Kerala has told police to restart a probe into a leading charismatic center in the southern Indian state.
The investigation into the Divine Retreat Centre managed by the Vincentian congregation was launched in 2007 but halted by India’s Supreme Court in March 2008.
Now Justice Sashidharan Nambiar of the state’s High Court has told the police to continue to investigate all cases not specifically closed by the Supreme Court.
The inquiry was originally sparked by an anonymous letter accusing the center of being implicated in a series of crimes and irregularities.
The Supreme Court criticized the lower court for ordering the probe based on an anonymous letter.
The new inquiry follows an application by Venugopal Kalarcode, a Hindu, who claimed that the Church center illegally treats mental patient without proper facilities.
Saji Raphael, the retreat center’s legal consultant, says the claims are the result of a conspiracy. “We are not scared about police investigation. There is conspiracy behind all these legal battles,” Raphael told UCA News Jan. 17.
But he described the High Court’s latest order as surprising and said the Church center would challenge it.
The retreat center, he said, draws around 10,000 people from all religions for its weeklong retreats. The new development is “part of an ongoing media campaign against the reputed retreat center,” he charged.
Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church under whose jurisdiction the retreat center functions, says there is nothing wrong in continuing the probe. “We welcome investigations against any of our institutions. But they should be conducted in a fair manner,” he told UCA News.

 

 

Supreme Court puts an end to Retreat Center probe

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/20814

http://www.heraldofindia.com/news.php?month=03&year=2010

http://www.ucanews.com/2010/03/01/supreme-court-puts-an-end-to-retreat-center-probe/

March 1, 2010

The Supreme Court has ordered police to wind up all investigations against the Divine Retreat Centre in Potta, Kerala.

The Supreme Court on Friday [Feb. 26] said investigations against the Centre are “not maintainable under law” and ordered an end to all police investigation into it, including allegations of rape and murder.

The probe originally began in 2007 after an anonymous letter was sent to the Kerala state High Court alleging a series of crimes and irregularities. It was halted by the Supreme Court in March 2008.

However, in January the state court ordered police to renew its inquiry against the center. That order came on a public interest litigant from one Venugopal Kalarcode, who said the Supreme Court had stopped the investigation only in one case. The retreat center then approached the Supreme Court, which elicited the latest verdict.

Father Augustine Vallooran, who directs the center, welcomed the ruling, saying it helped remove suspicion against the center.

Saji Raphael, the center’s legal consultant, said the Supreme Court has cleared the center from a “mudslinging campaign” by the media. “God has heard the prayers of thousands who come here for retreats,” he told UCA News.

 

Comment left by a reader at one of the above web pages:

Maybe the police should consider reopening their investigations and consult with their counterparts here in Australia. The same order have cases before the courts here today.

 

 

Magazine editor who irked netas held

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/21852

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/defaultinterstitial_as.cms

Thiruvananthapuram, July 4, 2010

In a move that has raised many eyebrows, the Cyber Cell of Kerala police on Saturday arrested the Chief Editor of the much popular CRIME magazine T P Nandakumar charging him with defaming an NRI through his portal crimenewsonline.com.
“He has been arrested on the basis of a complaint given by an NRI. It has been alleged that the portal accused the NRI of money swindling and running a sex racket. He is now in custody and searches are going on to retrieve evidence from the computer,” said deputy SP Cyber Cell Sukumara Pillai. Asked if the police had verified the veracity of the claims made by the portal, he said a case could have been registered against the NRI in the state had there been any truth in the charge.
A fiery journalist, Nandakumar was an eyesore for politcians of all hues and many religious leaders because of his sensational stories. He was responsible for bringing to life the SNC Lavlin case allegedly involving CPM party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. It was on his PIL that the Kerala High Court ordered a CBI probe in the case culminating in the agency chargesheeting Vijayan. His office was even ransacked soon after the magazine published stories of the scandal in 2001.
Nandakumar’s case against this is currently pending before a court.
Though detractors classify him as a pulp journalist, the fact remains that the mainstream media was forced to pick up many of his stories. Some of these include the Kozhikode Ice cream parlour sex racket expose, which shook the then Congress-led UDF government with the news report linking Muslim League leader P K Kunjalikutty to it. The Left utilised the report to hit the UDF hard.

CRIME had also carried stories against CPM leader M. A. Baby accusing him of financial irregularities. Baby went to court accusing Nandakumar of defaming him. The case is pending trial.

The weekly magazine created a stir in the political circles accusing that Congress leader Shobana George was behind a fake intelligence document that linked her party colleague and Union minister K V Thomas to a hawala racket.

“Investigative reports” by the magazine against a Church-run Divine Retreat Centre in the state had also lead to high-level inquiry and High Court intervention.

More recently, Nandakumar also ran a series of stories against PDP leader and Bangalore blasts accused Abdul Nasser Madani and also IPS officer Tomin J Thachankary, against whom the Union home ministry has ordered a probe by the National Investigation Agency for allegedly meeting certain terror suspects during his visit to Qatar in January this year.

 

 

Divine Retreat Centre Director Sues Businessman

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/24007

http://www.ucanews.com/2011/02/16/catholic-priest-to-clear-name-in-court/

Kochi, February 16, 2011

A Catholic priest in Kerala has sued a Muslim businessman for defamation.
Father George Panackal, who directs the Divine Retreat Centre in the southern Indian state, has demanded an unconditional apology from K.A. Rauf for alleging that he accepted money to hush up a sex scandal.
Rauf is a relative of P.K. Kunhalikutty, a former minister who faces several sex abuse cases.
Rauf told media yesterday that Kunhalikutty had sought Father Panackal’s help to silence a person who was a regular visitor to the center. The businessman alleged that Kunhalikutty, then a prominent minister in the state cabinet, paid 100,000 (US$2,200) rupees to the priest for this.
Father Panackal has denied all allegations and asked Rauf to apologize within three days. The Marxist-led state government has ordered a police investigation into Rauf’s allegations.
The indigenous Vincentian Congregation manages the center, which attracts thousands of people for its weekly retreats.

Court wants answer on Kerala “lies”
– State told to scrap new probe into Catholic retreat center

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/24279

https://www.ucanews.com/news/court-wants-answer-on-kerala-lies/7996

Kochi, March 16, 2011
India’s Supreme Court has slammed the Kerala state government for re-ordering a probe into a Catholic charismatic retreat center.
Three years ago, the Supreme Court threw out a slew of allegations, including rape and murder, against people working at the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor.
The Kerala-based Vincentian Congregation manages the Catholic spirituality center.
The court also ordered the disbandment of a special team established by the Kerala High Court to probe the allegations against what is believed to be the largest Catholic retreat center in Asia.
Father George Panackal, who directs the center, appealed to the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court ordered the new investigation.
The lower court acted on a petition brought by Kalarcod Venugopalan Nair.
The court then sought the opinion of the state government and Kerala’s director general of police, Govindan Nair, told the court there were still cases pending against the Catholic center when, in fact, there were none.
The Supreme Court yesterday demanded an explanation from the Kerala government’s lawyer outlining why Govindan Nair gave a false and misleading statement to the High Court, calling his actions “a serious matter.”
It also directed Kalarcod Venugopalan Nair, the petitioner, to back off or face punishment for wasting the court’s time.
State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said he has told his department to rectify matters.
The minister also directed his department to investigate why Govindan Nair gave a false statement in court.
Govindan Nair died in June 2010.
Father Panackal said some groups still want to tarnish the center’s image despite the Supreme Court ruling.

 

 

Government rapped for misleading court in Catholic center case

http://www.cathnewsindia.com/2011/03/17/government-rapped-for-misleading-court-in-catholic-center-case/

March 17, 2011

Source: UCAN The Supreme Court has slammed the Kerala government for re-ordering a probe into a Catholic charismatic retreat center.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court threw out a slew of allegations, including rape and murder, against people working at the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor.

The Kerala-based Vincentian Congregation manages the Catholic spirituality center.

The court also ordered the disbandment of a special team established by the Kerala High Court to probe the allegations against what is believed to be the largest Catholic retreat center in Asia.

Father George Panackal, who directs the center, appealed to the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court ordered the new investigation.

The lower court acted on a petition brought by Kalarcod Venugopalan Nair.

The court then sought the opinion of the state government and Kerala’s director general of police, Govindan Nair, told the court there were still cases pending against the Catholic center when, in fact, there were none.

The Supreme Court yesterday demanded an explanation from the Kerala government’s lawyer outlining why Govindan Nair gave a false and misleading statement to the High Court, calling his actions “a serious matter.”

It also directed Kalarcod Venugopalan Nair, the petitioner, to back off or face punishment for wasting the court’s time.

State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said he has told his department to rectify matters.

The minister also directed his department to investigate why Govindan Nair gave a false statement in court.

Govindan Nair died in June 2010.

Father Panackal said some groups still want to tarnish the center’s image despite the Supreme Court ruling.

 

 

Supreme Court of India slams Kerala state for targeting Muringoor Retreat center-GCIC welcomes

http://persecution.in/content/supreme-court-india-slams-kerala-state-targeting-muringoor-retreat-center

New Delhi, March 17, 2011

The Supreme Court today directed the Kerala State to withdraw the re-investigation plea in the case against Muringoor Divine Centre in Thrissur. The Court had earlier cancelled the case against the centre.

The Court said the State had misinterpreted the High Court that the case still exists. The Court harshly criticized government’s action. The Supreme Court also directed to withdraw the petition seeking police probe into allegations against Centre, failing which strict action will be taken against the petitioner.

Earlier report:-
Earlier, the High Court had directed the Government to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Vinson M. Paul, to probe into various allegations, including sexual exploitation of women against the Divine Retreat Centre at Muringoor. Justice K. Padmanabhan Nair had ordered that the SIT should inquire into the allegation of foreign exchange violations by the centre and alleged unnatural death that took place in and around the centre during the past two years.

He ordered that the team be constituted within two weeks.
The direction came on an anonymous letter complaining about criminal and anti-social activities taking place at the centre. After initiating suo motu proceedings on the basis of the letter, the court had received a complaint from a woman detained at the District Jail, Kozhikode
She was detained in the jail in connection with a theft in the centre. She alleged that in the past two years, a number of dead bodies were found on the National Highway and the railway track near the centre. According to her, these deaths were not deaths due to accidents.
She, in her complaint, said that the bodies were buried in the public ground. The keeper of the burial ground had once objected to bringing dead bodies having injuries. He was found dead in mysterious circumstances within two months. Women coming to the centre were being sexually exploited by the priest at the centre, she alleged.
The court said that the investigation into the complaint of the woman was in cold storage. The attempt of the investigation officers was to exonerate the accused and make the complainant as accused.
The Court ordered appointment of a senior officer in view of the allegations that senior IAS and IPS officers were associating with the functioning of the centre. The court also made it clear that it was open to the SIT to resort to scientific methods such as polygraph test, brain mapping and DNA finger printing.
The State Information Commission (SIC) had asked the police top brass to provide a copy of the report of the investigation into the alleged misdeeds at Divine Retreat Centre at Muringoor in Thrissur district to a human rights activist who sought the report under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
On a directive by the High Court, a police team headed by Inspector General Vincent M. Paul had carried out an investigation into a host of allegations of irregularities at the popular Christian faith-healing centre. The report of the investigation was submitted to the High Court and the Supreme Court.

 


Hindus welcome Catholic retreat ruling. Supreme Court bars further probes into Divine Retreat Centre

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/KonkaniCatholics/conversations/topics/24372

http://www.ucanews.com/2011/03/30/hindus-welcome-catholic-retreat-ruling/

Kochi, March 30, 2011

Hindus joined Christians today in welcoming a Supreme Court decision quashing all cases against a Catholic charismatic center in Kerala, southern India.

“I know many priests and volunteers at the center. All the allegations against it are wild and based on fantasies,” said Manikian Unnikrishnan, a Hindu who stays near the Divine Retreat Centre, Asia’s largest charismatic prayer center in Muringoor. Unnikrishnan was reacting to a Supreme Court order yesterday instructing Kerala police to end all investigations into the conduct of the center.

The Vincentian Congregation manages the center that offers weekly retreats in seven languages attended by more than 12,000 people.

It also manages with the help of around 1,200 volunteers several charity homes, including a home for people with AIDS.

It has been plagued in recent years by allegations of murder, rape and foreign exchange violations.

Unnikrishnan said he knows many priests and volunteers at the center and never believed the allegations.

“One was that more than 900 people had died at the center over the past 10 years. That’s not surprising since the center cares for people with HIV/AIDS and other terminal illness,” he explained.

Sudha Narayanan, another Hindu, said the court order was right. “I have visited the center many times. The allegations were all false,” she said.

Father George Panackal, who directs the center, said the court order means all charges have been dropped.

“Finally God has rewarded us for our pain and prayers. It’s a happy moment for all of us,” he said.

According to the priest, the continual controversies were hindering the center’s work. “We have lost precious time and resources fighting against the forces of darkness,” he lamented.

He also criticized a section of the media for running “motivated campaigns” that “tarnished the center’s image.”

Father Panackal also said the controversies had hurt thousands of their admirers all over the world who have offered prayers and support through emails and phone calls.

*

Subject:
JUNE 2nd – DIVINE SOLIDARITY DAY

Date: Mon, 28 May 2007 17:03:28 +0530 From: Manoj Sunny jyio@jesusyouth.org

Reply-To: Manoj Sunny manojsunny@jesusyouth.org
To:
joynet@jesusyouth.org

Dear Joynetters,

I am writing this for a very important purpose. We had a few discussions regarding the continuing persecutions towards Divine retreat centre – all of us think it is high time we expressed our solidarity to them.

We want to express our concern in two ways

1. By sending a letter showing our support

2. By conducting a fasting and prayer day on June 2nd all over the world as a ‘Divine Solidarity Day’.

So we will keep next Saturday as a day of prayer.

I am attaching the official statement from the Divine Retreat Centre regarding the recent developments.

In Jesus and Mary,

Manoj Sunny, Jesus Youth International Coordinator.

 

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

Greetings of Peace and Joy from the Divine Retreat Centre!

It is an hour of great personal trial for us here at the Centre. In the recent past there has been much negative propagation and accusations against the Divine Retreat Centre. We approach you with what is perhaps our responsibility at this moment to explain the truth of our situation even as we need your presence and encouragement with us to pursue our service in the Church.

The Divine Retreat Center belongs to the Vincentian Congregation and has been functioning according to the direction and guidance of the Church authorities. The Retreat Centre is committed to preach the Word of God and also to take care of the less fortunate brethren abandoned by society. We have always kept our doors open to welcome and to care for the poor and the marginalized. At the moment we are looking after 100 AIDS patients, 450 mentally ill patients, 250 people with acute problems of addictions, 50 terminally ill patients, 200 elderly men and women abandoned by their families, 300 orphaned children and quite a few financially broken families. Altogether there are 3000 individuals rejected by society but received in, housed and cared for here at the Divine Retreat Centre.

We were always aware that, because of our identification with the proclamation of the Gospel, communal forces have been working against us. Especially because of the bold stand we have taken in our retreats against all forms of social injustice, corruption, alcoholism and drug addiction and exploitation against the poor, there are many anti-social forces that have joined hands to destabilize the Centre.

From the very beginning, in the functioning of the Divine Retreat Centre we can in all sincerity say that we have been totally transparent to the ecclesiastical and civil authorities as well as to the general public. On 25 March, 2006 the High Court of Kerala ordered an enquiry which interestingly was on the basis of an anonymous letter possibly framed by a local group with vested interests on the instigation of a powerful communal organization. Still as we have nothing to hide we accepted the enquiry with an open mind. After vigorous investigation over thirteen months, the police investigation team could not even produce a single FIR against us in the court. However the Retreat Centre was kept constantly under the surveillance of the police. Many people working for the Retreat Centre were called in for questioning.

Again sudden police raids were held on two weekends in the Centre in September-October 2006. This move had come under fire even in the Kerala Assembly. We were deeply grieved at the outcome of these raids – the unfair and incorrect media reports, the disrespectful and disturbing handling of the AIDS-affected and Mentally-Challenged residents by the police, the rash reports about the medical care and the disturbance of the retreat schedule, that week there being a special children’s gospel program.

For how long could we continue under such pressures of the police enquiry?

Therefore we felt that there should be a time limit for this police interference in the daily functioning of the Retreat Centre. We approached the Supreme Court with the prayer that if there are no objective evidences against the Retreat Centre, the Order of the High Court should be given a stay. This petition was admitted by the Supreme Court. The police investigation team and the Kerala Government were served notices stating that a response should be filed by them in four weeks. As records reveal exactly 8 hours after the investigation team receive the notice, they had an FIR registered against the

Retreat Centre in a hurry, at the unearthly hour of 10 p.m., without respect to the truth or facts.

The FIR contains shockingly incorrect and vague and sweeping allegations. Now to point out a few of the glaring faults that stand out in the allegations highlighted in the FIR. One case registered, for example, is the death of a sick person Neena Govindavan. The postmortem report of the said deceased states, in no uncertain terms, that she had died of the defect of the heart valve. This report is with the police as well as with us. And yet the police team declares that there is something unusual in the death with absolutely no evidence to that effect! Inspite of taking care of this sick person till her last, we have been accused of causing her death. Notably in this as in all the other cases there has not been a single complaint from family members or relatives of those who have been under our care till their death.

The second very shocking allegation in the FIR is that 974 people have died in the Retreat Centre under ‘shady circumstances’. Firstly we need to clarify that this number of the record of those who have died was not the revelation of police investigation but is what the Retreat Centre has on its own records!

The people are shocked by the extensive and exaggerated media reports that the Retreat Centre has caused the unnatural deaths of this number. In our AIDS home itself we have cared for more than 1000 people in the last 10 years. Most of them came here in the last stages and have passed away in a natural and holy death. Similarly over time in our Homes for the terminally ill and the aged we have provided solace for those who have passed away. Moreover, an average of two lakh people come here for retreats every year. Among them there are a lot of sick people who are abandoned by medical science and are in their last stages of life due to incurable diseases like cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, AIDS etc. In fact some of them come here with the specific intention of dying a peaceful death. The details of all these deaths are registered by the Retreat Centre itself with the Melur panchayat office. Their complete details and addresses are kept at the office of the Centre as well. It is the natural death of these persons that the media has reported in such an absurd and evil manner. The fact that we have been able to take care of these abandoned and pained individuals and be of some assistance to them in the moments of their death is a matter of great joy for us. The deaths of these 974 people have been a matter of priestly satisfaction, that when they were abandoned by their own, we could reach out to them to give them the comfort of the Word of God and the grace of the Holy Sacraments.

A third allegation is that strong psychiatric drugs have been administered with ulterior and diabolic motives, without correct supervision and that a calculated destructive agenda has been followed in the administration of these drugs, causing mental imbalance and even death. Here we need to present clear facts. Firstly, at the Divine Care Home for the Mentally Challenged all the residents are studied and their medication is prescribed by a qualified team that includes one resident doctor, two visiting psychiatrists and a host of nurses and paramedical staff. Secondly, the medication that is administered has been certified to be of the mildest degree because we depend on alternate therapies of prayer, community activity and counseling. The local group with antisocial and vested interests, who wanted to malign the Retreat Center, had already some months earlier brought an allegation against Fr. Mathew Thadathil, one of our young and promising priests. Not only is this committed dynamic priest the Administrator of the entire Centre, he is also the Director of the Divine Care Home for the Mentally Challenged. The group brought a woman who alleged that Fr. Mathew Thadathil had sexually molested and raped her and as a result of which she was pregnant. Most interestingly this lady had been serving a jail term for theft at the time of this allegation in the Calicut jail! Still as per the direction of the High Court the police team made a thorough investigation, even taking recourse to a DNA test and came to the conclusion that all the allegations were totally false.

Inspite of this fact, it is a matter of concern that there was no effort on the part of the police to question the responsibility of the group that raised such atrocious allegations. It was when this group and their allies failed in their attempts to malign the priest and the Centre that they have come forward in an concerted attempt with another bold and evil allegation of ‘mysterious deaths’.

We are deeply grieved by the adverse impact all this has had on the Church and its work of the proclamation and on the faith of the people. The media, instead of standing up for justice and truth, has unfortunately become the tool in the hands of the communal and anti-social alliances. We want to remind the media that they have the moral responsibility to expose the evil powers trying to destroy the humanitarian institutions which are the refuge of the marginalized and the voiceless. Our call to the media is to make an honest soul-searching, to see if they have adopted a mature attitude to the Divine

Retreat Centre. The Church and the society are deeply hurt by the untoward action of the police officers and the irresponsible attitude of the media. There has been a very calculated move on the part of the communal forces to shut down this house of prayer by raising false allegations and instigating communal tensions. We believe the truth will succeed and the allegations will be proved false.

We are aware that being a witness of Christ shall bring along with its many rewards, persecution too. We do understand that we have been considered worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. We believe that in our tears and pain the Church shall be blessed. But we earnestly request your presence with us in our struggle against this shocking menace of powerful groups that propagate hatred and selfish interests. This threatens to shake the very foundations of democracy and the freedom to practice and work for our faith even in this State where Christians not only render extensive service but also are considerable in terms of numbers. We count on your prayers and support in this hour that we may stand firm with the Lord to persevere in our service to the least of our brethren and to face these false allegations with the courage of the witnesses of the faith that the Church boasts of right through the ages.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Fr. George Kammatil VC, Superior

Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Associate Director

Divine Retreat Centre

 

Subject:
DIVINE SOLIDARITY DAY on JUNE 2nd

Date: Wed, 30 May 2007 17:04:21 +0530 From: Manoj Sunny <jyio@jesusyouth.org>

Reply-To: Manoj Sunny manojsunny@jesusyouth.org
To:
joynet@jesusyouth.org

Dear Joynetters

As mentioned in my earlier mail with regard to the persecutions faced by the Divine Retreat Centre and the need to express our support to them, I am glad to inform you that Fr. James Anaparambil (Animator, JY Int’l Team), Raiju Varghese (Former Coordinator JY India), Siljo Thomas (Coordinator JY India), and myself went to Divine today and met with Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran. The main intention of the meeting was to express the support and concern shared by all the Jesus Youth around the world. We also gave them a letter expressing the same (The text of the letter is given below).

We have informed Fr. Vallooran about the decision to observe 2nd June as ‘Divine Solidarity Day’ by Jesus Youth in different countries. A special prayer (which is being prepared) will also be prayed by everyone beginning 2nd June till this crisis is resolved. Please do take all efforts to come together and pray for Divine and the needs of all those who are being persecuted and maligned there. I will be sending you the ‘Prayer for Divine’ in the coming days.

In Jesus and Mary, Manoj Sunny, Jesus Youth International Coordinator.

30th May 2007

 

Dear Fathers and all our dear brothers and sisters at Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor,

All of us from Jesus Youth, our Priest Animators, animating families and active Jesus Youth all over the world, offer our heartfelt prayers to the Lord at this time of severe trial of Divine Retreat Centre. We want to assure you of our support and companionship in these troubled times.

We remember with immense gratitude to the Lord, that during the past so many years He has been raising Divine Retreat Centre as a rampart of hope and refuge for hundreds of thousands of people of all races and creeds. The numerous initiatives that have emerged out of the Centre have transformed not only the face of the Church, but have done much to transform the culture and lifestyle of the society at large.

Our own Jesus Youth movement and its various ministries have benefited immensely from the wellsprings of the graces poured out through Divine. Many of our major gatherings found their home at the Centre and our Cultural Exchange Programme year after year began with a week retreat there. Most of our leaders in India and abroad somehow have had a close relationship with Divine. All the wonderful people there are very close to our hearts.

In this background of the enduring fruits of Kingdom that emanate from Divine, the recent attempts of persecution and seeming witch-hunting from different quarters cause extreme pain to all of us. Instead of diminishing with the passage of time, these trials seem to be on the increase day by day. This indeed is extremely disturbing to all of us and we want to assure you all our prayerful companionship.

As a first visible gesture of our close walk with you, Jesus Youth all over the world are observing 2nd June 2007 as “Divine Solidarity Day”. We will be gathering together prayerfully in different centres and will be spending time for reflection and intercession for the Divine Retreat Centre and its leaders. We will also be taking time to gently highlight the immense good the Lord is doing through the Centre and how there are concerted efforts from certain quarters to malign this great work of the Lord. Assuring you all once again our immense appreciation and fervent prayers

For the Jesus Youth International Team

Manoj Sunny Fr. James Annaparambil Raiju Varghese

Fr. Thomas Tharayil (USA) – Pastor

Fr. Abraham Pallivathukkal (India) – Animator

Fr. Sebastian Arikat (UK) – Animator

Dr. Edward Edezhath (India) – Animator

George Ettiyil (India) – Asst. Coordinator

Fr. Ajy Mooleparambil (Germany)

Rajesh T. George (Australia)

Mayrose Pius (Australia)

C. C. Joseph (India)

Santhosh Joseph (Singapore)

Jose Mathew (UK)

Santhosh Mathew (UAE)

Tony Varghese (Oman)

Saji Sebastian (USA)

Princy Varughese (USA)

Sunil Kumar Nadarajan (USA)

Siljo Thomas (Co. India)

Bijo Joy (Co. Kerala)

 

From: “Manoj Sunny” <jyio@jesusyouth.org> To: <joynet@jesusyouth.org>
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 5:51 PM Subject:
DIVINE SOLIDARITY DAY
Dear Joynetters,
Hope you had a powerful day of prayer and fasting yesterday.
We had a gathering here at the Basilica which started with Holy Mass celebrated by Fr Abraham Pallivathukkal. Fr George Panackal explained the various problems they have been facing for the last one year. Fr Shajan Thermattam (chairman, KST) also addressed the group. We ended the gathering with an adoration and rosary procession. Please continue to pray the common prayer.
Shelton has prepared a write up of the sharing of Fr Panackal and the statement from Divine. We hope this will be helpful for knowing the truth. Please forward this content to your friends and acquaintances so that people see beyond the lies and the half truths about Divine Retreat Centre that is propagated in the media.
To download the material in the proper format, please click on
http://jesusyouth.org/main/content/view/144/225.

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE – What the media says. And what it doesn’t.

What the media says:

The investigation finds that 974 persons have died in Divine Retreat Centre under shady circumstances.

What it doesn’t:

1) This number was not a hidden fact discovered by the investigation team, but what has always been on the records of the Divine Retreat Centre. In fact, each death has been registered in the Melur Panchayat records.

2) The AIDS home alone has cared for more than 1000 AIDS patients over the last ten years and most of them have come in their last stages, always cast away from their family and friends, seeking a place to die with acceptance and dignity.

3) An average of 2 lakh persons come for retreats every year. And many among them are terminally ill due to diseases like cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and AIDS. And many of them come with a specific intention of a peaceful death.

4) These 974 people who would have died hopeless and alone spend their final moments in the presence of God.

5) The post mortem report of Ms. Neena Govindavan, whose death the police allege as unusual, states clearly that she died from a defect of the heart valve. And the report is with the Divine Centre as well as with the police.

 

What the media says:

The raids in Divine Retreat Centre following the High court enquiry immediately resulted in an FIR.

What it doesn’t:

1. After vigorous investigation and harassment over 13 months the police could not even file a single FIR.

2. The current FIR was filed only when the Supreme Court served a notice to the Police asking them to file a response in four weeks or drop the case.

3. The FIR was hastily filed exactly eight hours after they received the notice, at an unearthly hour of 10 p.m.

4. The entire enquiry was prompted by no individual with specific allegations by an anonymous letter possibly framed on the instigation of a powerful communal organization.

 

What the media says:

Local groups have come up with allegations against Fr. Mathew Thadathil of Divine Retreat Centre of sexually molesting a woman and making her pregnant.

What it doesn’t:

1. The lady who is alleged to be involved was discovered to be serving a term in Calicut jail during the time the alleged crime was committed.

2. In spite of that, the police team made a thorough investigation, conducted even a DNA test and found that the allegation was totally false and cooked up.

3. No police action was taken against the persons or the group who made such atrocious allegations to deliberately malign the Divine Retreat Centre and this dynamic young priest who is the Director of the entire centre and Director of the Divine Care Home for the Mentally Challenged.

 

What the media says:

There are allegations of ‘shady’ activities happening in Divine Retreat Centre Muringoor.

What it doesn’t:

1. Divine Retreat Centre is transparent to everyone and people of all castes communities and religions are welcomed to the retreats without any prejudices whatsoever.

2. Divine Retreat Centre has always taken care of the less fortunate brethren abandoned by society.

3. Currently the Centre cares for 100 AIDS patients, 450 mentally ill patients, 250 people with acute problems of addictions, 50 terminally ill patients, 200 elderly men and women abandoned by their families, 300 orphaned children and quite a few financially broken families.

3. In all, there are 3000 individuals rejected by society, but received in and cared for at the Divine retreat Centre.

In Jesus, Manoj Sunny
This mail is generated from JOYnet, a Jesus Youth mailing list.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Advertisements


Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

fergymisquitta

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

ephesians-511.net Testimonies

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai – 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church

Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

%d bloggers like this: