Kochi, Mar 24 (PTI) A meeting of the council of priests today decided to initiate steps to resolve the crisis in the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese over alleged irregularities in a land deal involving Cardinal George Alencherry and some priests.

The meeting of the presbyterial council of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese was attended by 49 priests.

In his address, Alencherry sought to reach out to the priests who have declared war against him over the land deal, calling for reconciliation.

Talking to reporters after the meeting here, a representative of the priests said initial steps have been taken to end the crisis.

He, however, maintained that they needed to get a clear picture about the land deal involving Alencherry and two other priests.

There is no need for intervention of Pope Francis, if the issue is resolved here itself, the priest said.

“It is an internal matter of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese,” he said.

The reconciliation efforts began in the diocese following the negotiation talks conducted by Kerala Catholic Bishops Council representatives with priests and the Cardinal.

Kerala Catholic Bishops Council stepped in to help resolve the crisis in Syro-Malabar Church after a group of priests came out openly against Cardinal over alleged irregularities in the land deal involving him.

Over 200 priests of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese had hit the streets recently, urging Alencherry to keep off all responsibilities of the Archdiocese in view of a police probe on the alleged irregularities.

Cardinal Alencherry is the Archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

They raised the banner of protest after Kerala High Court had ordered police to register an FIR against Alencherry.

The priests have alleged that Alencherry and the others sold prime land of the archdiocese for “a very low price” and refused to make public the details about it.

The High Court had ordered the probe after rejecting Alencherry’s contention that the land belonged to the diocese and that a third party could not complain about alleged loss in sale of such a private property.

An FIR has been filed against Alencherry, who enjoys support of priests, Bishops and Church followers in other dioceses.

A division bench of the High Court stayed the single bench order in an appeal filed by the Cardinal.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.