Press Release: Murder of Rector Fr. K J Thomas, Banaglore

  20 April,2013

19th April, 2013

Bishops of the Board of Administration of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary condemn the murder of Rector Fr. K J Thomas, urge for speedy investigation

Fifteen Bishops of the Board of Administration with the Archbishop of Bangalore strongly condemned the dastardly killing of Fr. K J Thomas, Rector of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore in the early morning of 1st April 2013.

The Board of Bishops, which met on 18th April at St. John ’s National Institute of Medical Sciences, urged the government of Karnataka and the investigating agencies to bring to justice the culprits immediately.

It’s already 18 days since the murder of Fr. K. J. Thomas and the police who are investigating the murder of Fr. K. J. Thomas, still have not been able to identify the culprits and the motive as to why Fr. K. J. Thomas was murdered, though they are doing their best.

On the night of March 31st and the 1st of April, 2013, Fr. K. J. Thomas- Rector of Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore was brutally murdered. As the postmortem report indicated, he was killed violently with wounds on his face, forehead, head, chest and back. He was found murdered on the steps in front of the staff tea room and his body was dragged to staff tea room, just about 50 feet away from his room. His body was found with his night dress.

The blood on the corridor was wiped with a cassock, a long white tunic worn by priests, which was found in the garden, next to the place where he was murdered. 

His room was ransacked while the doors were not damaged. Nothing valuable was missing from his room, his computer, ipad, and mobile phone was all in his room. The room next to his is the procurator’s room. Attempt was made to break open and damage it. Few other rooms such as reception, students’ computer room, two students’ rooms, Bible museum etc were also opened and ransacked.

The culprits chose a day, when there were very few inmates in the seminary. All the students of the seminary had gone on leave for summer holidays on 22nd of March. Many of the staff members had gone out for their annual leave and even those who stayed back had gone out for Holy Week celebrations. Out of the total teaching staff of 23, only 7 including Fr. K. J. Thomas were there in the seminary that night.

Fr. K. J. Thomas (62 years old) was born on 13th May, 1951 in Kottayam, Kerala. He joined the diocese of Ootakamund to study for the priesthood. He had his priestly formation at St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary. He was ordained priest for the diocese of Ooty on 14th May, 1980.

He was appointed as a member of the staff of the seminary in 1988. He served in various capacities in the seminary, including procurator for 10 years. He was appointed President of the institute in 2007 and in 2009 he was appointed Rector of the seminary by the Vatican. He was serving his 2nd term of 3 years as Rector.

Fr. K. J. Thomas was known for his simplicity, honesty, hard work and spirit of austerity. He was a kind hearted person. He had no enemies among the staff or students or anywhere else as far as known to us.

There has been a lot of talk and rumors after the murder of Fr. K. J. Thomas. Nothing valuable was missing from the room of Fr. K. J. Thomas or anywhere from the seminary. As far as it is known at present no documents are missing. However, we will come to know if any documents are missing only when we really want them. No property issue was there to attribute any cause for the murder.

Fr. K. J. Thomas was an un- assuming person. He did not even want to take up any position. Even when the 2nd term was given, he was reluctant but under obedience he accepted. Appointments to the President and Rector are done by the Vatican. It’s done, after the opinion is taken from the staff council and from the board of bishops.
             It is rumored, that his WILL is long. His will dated 1/2/2012 was found in his room, just half a page and very simple and clear.

St. Peter’s Seminary started functioning in Bangalore from 1934. But the seminary was initially started in 1778 by the Society of Paris Foreign Mission (MEP) at Pondicherry.  In 1934 it was shifted to Bangalore by MEP Fathers for better facilities. Till 1968 the administration of St. Peter’s Pontifical seminary was under Paris Foreign Mission Society (MEP Fathers). It was only in 1968 the Vatican approved the transfer of administration from MEP Society to the present Board of Bishops. From 1976 St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute was approved by the Vatican. At present there are 17 Bishops on the Board,  10 from Karnataka and 7 from Tamil Nadu.

At the request of the then Bishop of Mysore, the Maharaja of Mysore on 19th July 1929, granted 24 acres 8 guntas of land to the Roman Catholic Mission for building a seminary, at a  price of Rs. 400 per acre.

St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary was registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act 1960 on 14th September, 1976. The objective of the society states:

“To take over the assets and liabilities and administer and run the Institution known as “St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary”, Malleshwaram West Post, Bangalore 560 055 which was initially started at Pondicherry in 1778 and transferred to Bangalore in 1934 and standing in the name of the Bishop of Mysore”.

In the recent times, there has been a demand by some organizations to take over the administration of the seminary by the Karnataka Bishops. This matter is under the study of The Vatican, which had appointed a Commission. The Commission of three Bishops had a study done in the month of July, 2012 and the directives from the Vatican are awaited. All of us in the church are expected to obey the directives that come from the Vatican, as faithful and committed members of the Catholic Church.

Yours Sincerely,
Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras
Archbishop of Bangalore
Chairman- Board of Bishops of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary