Pope suspends Indian bishop after he 'adopted' young woman

 Bishop John Thattunkal, 58, of Kochi Diocese in Kerala, India, has been suspended, pending an investigation into charges that he adopted a young woman.

"The Bishop has been suspended from the administrative responsibility of Cochin diocese; instead Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, of Verapoly Archdiocese, has been given charge of the diocese. The suspension would come into effect from tomorrow itself," said the Archbishop's public relations officer Fr Yesudas Pazhambally, quoting the communiqué from Pope Benedict XVI.

"Going by past records of similar enquiries that have been conducted outside our country, no one should be surprised if the enquiry takes a few years. The communiqué says that a final decision would be taken only after the enquiry report is submitted and until then he remains suspended," Alathara said.

A three member Bishops' panel is to conduct a detailed inquiry into the adoption, which has snowballed into a major scandal. The local media has been running the story for some days. Initially it was reported that the woman was 26, but it has now emerged that she is in her late 30s.

Bishop Thattunkal has said in a statement that he is willing to withdraw the adoption if the Church felt he had erred.

The Pope's action comes after the Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, submitted a detailed report to the Vatican.

The case is believed to be the first action against a bishop in the 2000 years of the Catholic Church in India.

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