Pope Francis expels priest Kerala convicted of rape

KOCHI: Adhering to a zero tolerance policy towards clergy who sexually exploits minors, he has expelled a Kerala priest convicted of violating all priestly duties and rights, according to church officials.

The priest of the Syro-Malabar Church, Robin, is currently serving a prison sentence for impregnating a 16-year-old girl.

Vadakkumchery has been dispensed from the exercise of priestly duties and rights. That means it has been reduced to the status of a layman, a Church official told PTI.

He was suspended from his priestly duties shortly after the news of his crime was reported in early 2017.

A POCSO court in Thalassery last year had sentenced Vadakkumchery to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs three lakh.

The priest, 50, was the vicar of the local church in Kottiyur and manager of the school where the victim was studying.

He was arrested two years ago while trying to flee to Canada.

The Vatican's action came two years after Pope Francis made it clear that all bishops must adhere to a zero tolerance policy for clergy that sexually exploits children.

(The identity of the victim has not been revealed to protect their privacy according to the directives of the Supreme Court on cases related to sexual assault)