Indian Catholic News

Bishop accused of attempting to poison priest

Archbishop and others accused of attempting to lace priest's food.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio

A court is set to hear a case against three top Catholic Church leaders including an archbishop over the alleged attempt to poison a fellow priest in an attempt to call into question his mental state.

Magistrate Alok Mishra ordered the registering of the case on February 7 and set a complaint hearing for March 1 against Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, his vicar general Father VC Mathew and archdiocese spokesman Father PJ Johny.

The case alleges that Father Anand Muttungal, former public relations officer for the archdiocese, was targeted by his superiors after he filed a court case over alleged misappropriation of funds by local Church leaders.

Archbishop Cornelio told the allegations against him were baseless and his accuser suffered from behavioral problems.

“We consulted psychiatrists and they advised medicines,” he said. But the plan was abandoned later as the priest behaved normal, he added.

“But now he goes around doing all these things to discredit the Church and challenge its authority. He is doing all of this with malicious intent.”

Fr Muttungal told on Friday that he approached the court directly because he received no response from a police complaint filed last month, soon after he became aware of the alleged conspiracy against him.

“Since the police did not act upon my complaint, I had to approach the magisterial court to save my life,” he said.

Father KP Philip, a diocesan priest in Bhopal, submitted an affidavit to the court in which he substantiated Fr Muttungal’s allegations.

According to the affidavit Fr Philip accompanied the archbishop and vicar general to a psychiatrist in December last year, where they discussed their plans with the doctor to render Fr Muttungal mentally unstable. At that time he refused to be a party to it and informed Fr Muttungal.

The affidavit further states that diocesan officials put pressure on Father Philip to add drungs in Father Muttungals's food and drink. But he refused to do that.

Archdiocese spokesman Fr Johny told that Muttungal formerly served seven years as spokesman but was replaced last year.

He did not like the decision and “is rebelling against the transfer,” he said.

“He has a fear psychosis. He also has a feeling that he can get his way through threats,” the priest said.

The court filed the case against the accused based on the submissions of Fr Philip and other evidence it described as including audio-visual materials.

If convicted, the accused could be jailed for a term of up to 10 years.


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