Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam–Angamaly
on the Controversial Land Deal
(Note: Bishop Edayanthrathu the Auxiliary was entrusted with writing this letter by the Cardinal to inform the priests the detailed facts of the land sale. So CCV is publishing it for the information of the general public, also to prevent spread of rumours based on tell-tale information. james kottoor, editor ccv)
December 28, 2017, Prot. No. CR-6/17
Loving, respected priests,
At the clergy conference of the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly held on December 21, 2017, we discussed the issues regarding the purchase and sale of land in the archdiocese. At the end of the conference, I was entrusted with the responsibility of informing all the priests the truth about the issues through a circular. Accordingly, I inform you about the facts related to the financial crisis facing the archdiocese.
- On May 29, 2015, the archdiocese bought 23.22 acres of land, adjacent to the Little Flower Hospital at Mattoor in Thuravoor village to set up a medical college. For this a loan of Rs 60 crore was obtained from the bank. The archdiocese, which does not have much surplus fund, bought this land in the belief that it would be able to sell the archdiocese’s land at Varantharapalli and repay the loan.
- However, the land at Varantharapalli could not be sold. As a result, the Finance Council of the archdiocese felt that it was very difficult for the archdiocese to pay the annual interest of Rs 6 crore on the bank loan of Rs 60 crore.
- As the archdiocese had bought 23.22 acres of land in its own territory, it was thought feasible to sell some other plots of land belonging to the archdiocese and clear the debt. These are the five plots of land selected for sale:
a) 70.15 cents of land in front of Naipunya School at Kochi (Trikkakara)
b) 62.33 cents in front of the Trikkakara Bharat Mata College
c) 99.44 cents near Trikkakara Karunalayam
d) 20.35 cents at Nilampathinjimukal, Kakkanad
e) 54.71 cents at Marad
- Thus, the total land that was decided to be sold measured 306.98 cents. The price that was decided for various plots of land varied from Rs 19 lakh per cent to Rs 3 lakh per cent. The average price of land to be sold worked out to Rs 9.05 lakh per cent.
- Under the agreement reached with the person who was entrusted with the responsibility of selling the land, he should not have divided the plots and sold them to a third party or parties. However, the documents suggest that the land was given to 36 persons in violation of the agreement.
- The archdiocese was under the impression that the five above-mentioned plots would be sold in a month’s time and the archdiocese would get Rs 27.30 crore. When that money is deposited in the bank, the archdiocese would be left with a debt of only Rs 32 crore. The decisions were taken in the belief that the rental income from the soon-to-be completed shopping complex at Chakkaraparambil would be sufficient to meet the needs of paying the bank’s interest and clearing the principal amount.
- The five plots of land measuring 301.76 cents, excluding 5.22 cents earmarked for a road, were sold under 36 title deeds. Under the agreement signed on June 21, 2016, the financial transactions regarding the land sale should have been completed in one month. Yet, the archdiocese received only Rs 9.13 crore even after one and a half years.
- The balance of Rs 18.17 is yet to be received. Although the decision to sell the five plots of land was discussed in the canonical councils of the archdiocese, they were not taken into confidence when the land was divided and sold under 36 title deeds. Not only that, even before the subject was to be discussed in the canonical councils, advance amounts were believed to have been obtained from the buyers of the land.
- If, after the purchase of the land at Mattoor, the liability of the archdiocese stood at Rs 60 core, it has now increased to Rs 84 crore after the above-mentioned land transactions.
- What has happened to the archdiocese is not just a financial crisis. Also involved are moral issues of lack of transparency and non-adherence to canonical laws. Thus, even if the archdiocese is able to receive the balance amount due to it, it would solve the financial problems only to some extent. The moral issues would, however, remain intact.
- Realising the grave situation and in accordance with the decision of the clergy council held on November 29, 2017, the head of the archdiocese appointed a six-member committee to study the issue in detail. The interim report of the committee was presented before the various bodies prior to the clergy conference held on December 21, 2017. The committee has been asked to submit its final report before January 31, 2018.
- The clergy council and the clergy conference want the final report to be sent to the Vatican. On the basis of the interim report and in accordance with the directions given by Cardinal George Alencherry, the responsibilities of Monsignor Sebastian Vadakumpadan, who is the Synchellus in charge of all the establishments in the archdiocese, and Fr Joshi Puthuva, who is the financial officer of the archdiocese, have been controlled.
The details given above are based on the documents and information regarding the financial crisis facing the archdiocese as a result of the land transactions. I submit them to the knowledge of the respected priests. There is no need to read out the circular in the parishes.
Hope everyone would stand united and sincerely pray and work to find a permanent solution to all the crises facing the archdiocese.
Yours in love and prayers
Mar Sebastian Edayanthrathu
Protosynchellus, Ernakulam-Angamali Archdiocese