UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

India

Indian court hears sex abuse cover-up charges against cardinal

Police told not to take coercive action against prelates in relation to a child sex abuse case

ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi

ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi

Updated: July 02, 2019 11:47 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Indian court hears sex abuse cover-up charges against cardinal

A file image of Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias arriving for Mass in St. Peter's Basilica ahead of a papal election conclave on March 12, 2013. (Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP)

 

 

 

 

 

Share this article :
An Indian court hearing sex abuse cover-up charges against Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and his two auxiliary bishops has asked police not to take any coercive action against the prelates.

The Bombay High Court, of western Maharashtra state, on July 1 also asked police and the parents of the abuse victim to file their responses seeking to substantiate the cover-up allegations.

The court was hearing the petition filed by Cardinal Gracias and auxiliary bishops Dominic Savio and John Rodrigues, which sought to quash the case, which is based on a claim that they failed to act against an archdiocese priest accused of molesting a child.

The prelates are challenging the "maintainability" of the case, their lawyer, Jayant Joseph Bardeskar, told ucanews.com July 1.

The complaint was registered in May following the direction of a special court dealing with cases covered by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act.

The law provides for a one-year jail term for any head of an institution who fails to report to police an alleged sexual offense by a subordinate against a minor.

The court wants to hear from the parents of the alleged victim before passing a final order, Bardeskar said.

Police arrested Father Lawrence Johnson, 55, on Dec. 2, 2015, on charges of having engaged in "sexual activities against the order of nature" with a boy aged 13. Police also charged him with violating several sections of the POCSO law.

The parents have maintained that the cardinal did not inform police of abuses by the priest, nor had the auxiliaries done so. The parents also maintained that they were not informed of the outcome of an internal church probe.

"We had taken our boy to show him his condition; there as no positive response from the cardinal," the child's mother told ucanews.com.

"He was behaving as if nothing had happened. If he was serious, he would have informed the police instantly, which he did not do," she said. 

The mother requested that her name not be published.

Joseph Soares, a social activist supporting the family, has raised questions about how the cardinal's office handled the allegations against Father Johnson.

However, the archdiocese maintains the church officials were planning to file a complaint with police, but did not as the family did so first.

Archdiocesan spokesperson Father Nigel Barret maintains that the cardinal was leaving for Rome that night, but discussed the issue for over an hour and promised support for the alleged victim and his family.

He also immediately suspended the accused priest from priestly ministries and ordered an inquiry, Father Barret said.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution