Head of Catholic Church Pope Francis on Sunday expelled a priest from Kannur in Kerala convicted of raping and impregnating a minor girl, PTI reported. Robin Vadakkumchery was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February last year in three different cases of rape and abuse of minor girls.
“The Pope had used his special powers to expel him from the clergy,” the Manathawady diocese said in a statement, according to the Hindustan Times. “He was informed about the latest decision.” .
Under the expulsion order, Vedakkumchery has been dispensed from exercising all his preistly duties and rights, an unidentified Church official told PTI. “This mean he has been reduced to the state of a layman,” he added.
The priest was the vicar of the local church in Kottiyur in Kannur district and the manager at the school where the minor was a student. In February last year, a POCSO court in Thalassery had sentenced Vadakkumchery to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs 3 lakh.
Six people – including five nuns and an administrator – who were accused of covering up the incident were acquitted because of lack of substantial evidence.
The incident came to light in February 2017. During the trial, the girl’s father had claimed responsibility for the rape because of extreme pressure from the church. “He was under such immense pressure that he was ready to take the blame and owned up to a heinous crime that he had never committed,” an unidentified childline officer had told The News Minute while the hearings were on. “But soon, he broke down and said that it was Father Robin’s baby, and that has been established beyond doubt with DNA tests.”
However, the court based its verdict on the live birth certificate of the girl, which showed that she was a minor in 2016 when the rape had occurred.