Bishop levels assault charges against priest/parish council

Bishop in Karnataka South claims he was pulled by his pectoral cross during a melee at a parish in Mysore

The Bishop in Southern Karnataka has filed a complaint with police leading to the arrest of one of his clergy and five parishioners on charges of assault. In a 17 Nov 2018 complaint the Rt. Rev. Mohan Manoraj averred that as he was entering the premises of Sawday Church in the Tilak Nagar district of Mysore in Southern India he as assaulted by a mob led by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Osmond Siri. They allegedly manhandled him and pulled him by his pectoral cross.

in city at about 11 am when a group of people led by Pastor  Rev. Osmond N. Siri abused and assaulted him and also pulled his Bishop’s Cross. The six were charged by police and taken into custody. They have denied the accusations, telling the Mysore Star the bishop had falsely accused them to cover up his conduct.  

In his complaint, the bishop told police he had transferred Mr. Siri to Maddur Church in Mysore and had appointed a new pastor for Sawday Church. Accompanied by the new priest and his aides, the bishop attempted to enter the building but found the gates locked. When he attempted to enter the church from its rear entrance he was confronted by Mr. Siri and his supporters, who then allegedly abused the bishop, the new priest and his entourage.

However, the defendants claim the first blows were thrown by the bishop’s “bouncers”, who manhandled an elderly parishioner, Noel Parker, who was protesting the bishop’s “high handed” actions. The melee then ensued.

The defendants told the Mysore Star the dispute between the bishop and the parish followed the award of a grant from the city refurbish the church.  The Star quoted the defendants as saying: “A Church Building Committee has been formed and Bishop Rev. Mohan Manoraj has put a condition that the contractors suggested by him must be given the contract. This is unacceptable and the Building Committee has already appointed a Class 1 contractor for the purpose. The Bishop’s demands are unreasonable and favours certain vested interests.”

They further stated that Mr. Siri and the Church Building Committee objected to the bishop’s conditions for use of the government grant, causing the bishop to replace the troublesome priest. The bishop then ordered the locks changed on 13 Nov 2018 without informing the parish council. The parish council and Mr. Siri replaced the bishop’s new locks, and the altercation ensued.

The Church of South India has long been troubled by financial misconduct among its bishops. In the recent past the majority of bishops were under criminal investigation by police for embezzling funds and breach of fiduciary duty. On 20 Jan 2018 the former moderator of the Church of South India, the Rt. Rev. Govada Dyvasirvadam, Bishop in Krishna-Godavari, was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigative Division of the Mangalagiri police in Southern India’s Andhra Pradesh state for theft of church funds.

Sources in the Church of South India tell Anglican Ink one of the sad aspects of this dispute is that both sides assume the other are motivated by fraudulent intent. He speculates the bishop may fear the parish council will award seek kickbacks from the contractor to whom it awards the contract, while the parish council and its pastor assume the bishop will do the same.

Photo: Mysore Palace


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