Court rul­ing over fraud claim

The Church of England - - News -

THE BOM­BAY High Court has di­rected po­lice to com­plete their fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion of four Church of North In­dia bish­ops ac­cused of sell­ing church lands for their per­sonal profit.

In an or­der handed down last week Jus­tice Naresh Patil and Jus­tice Anuja Prab­hude­sai com­plained that the ini­tial com­plaint had been filed in 2008 and that it was “high time” that the “in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer com­pletes the probe.”

In 2012 the for­mer Bishop in Pune, the Rt Rev Vi­jay Sathe was ar­rested on charges of fraud, forgery and breach of trust for al­legedly seek­ing to sell the Afghan Me­mo­rial Church in Bom­bay to property de­vel­op­ers and pock­et­ing the pro­ceeds.

The for­mer bish­ops of Bom­bay, Pune and Gu­jarat were also or­dered to be ar­rested by the court. All have since been re­leased on bail.

In a re­port dated 18 April 2009, VR Patil, the Ma­ha­rash­tra State law and ju­di­ciary depart­ment’s le­gal ad­viser, found that a “bo­gus” cor­po­ra­tion en­ti­tled the Bom­bay Dioce­san Trust As­so­ci­a­tion Pri­vate Limited had been cre­ated to “grab the prop­er­ties of gen­uine Chris­tian trusts” — the Bom­bay Dioce­san Trust As­so­ci­a­tion Limited (BDTA) and the So­ci­ety for the Prop­a­ga­tion of the Gospel (SPG) in the Dio­cese of Bom­bay.

“The bo­gus trustees in­dulged in many il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties to grab the property of BDTA Ltd and SPG by tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sim­i­lar­ity in the name of the bo­gus trust with the com­plainant’s trust,” the Patil re­port said. THE GEN­ERAL Synod of the Church of Nor­way, the Kirkemøtet, has re­jected a mo­tion that would have per­mit­ted same-sex church wed­dings or the bless­ing by clergy of same-sex civil unions.

How­ever, the 8 April 2014 meet­ing in Kris­tiansand also voted not to af­firm the church’s tra­di­tional stance that mar­riage is be­tween one man and one woman.

The vote against gay mar­riage was 64 votes to 51, while the vote re­ject­ing the church’s tra­di­tional stance on mar­riage was 62 to 54.

In 1993 Nor­way in­tro­duced same-sex civil part­ner­ships and in 2008 amended its mar­riage laws to make them gen­der-neu­tral.

Church of Nor­way priest, the Rev Dr Arne H Fjel­stad – di­rec­tor of The Me­dia Project in Wash­ing­ton – told The Church of Eng­land News­pa­per the de­feat of the gay mar­riage mo­tion was “re­ally a Pyrrhic vic­tory for the more mod­er­ate/con­ser­va­tive group within the church.”

He noted that some pro-gay mar­riage bish­ops af­ter the vote urged pa­tience say­ing: “With such a close race there is now much more lib­erty/free­dom for us to con­duct cer­e­monies for gays and les­bians. Stay in the church - don’t leave, we have more free­dom now, and the sit­u­a­tion is doomed to change within a few years.”

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