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India

Police probe kidnapping complaint against Indian bishop

Bishop William maintains that priests opposed to his administrative reforms are behind baseless charges

ucanews reporter, Bhopal

ucanews reporter, Bhopal

Updated: December 04, 2019 03:26 AM GMT
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Police probe kidnapping complaint against Indian bishop

Bishop Kannikadass Antony William of Mysore is accused of plotting the kidnapping and intimidation of a woman to cover up his allegedly immoral life. (Photo from diocesan website)

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Police in India's Karnataka state are probing complaints against a Catholic bishop that he engineered the kidnapping and intimidation of a woman to cover his immoral life.

Police in Mysuru town, formerly Mysore, filed a case against Bishop Kannikadass Antony William of Mysore and some unnamed persons on Nov. 28, based on the complaint of Robert Rosario, a lay Catholic leader, and social activist. 

Rosario, a member of the Association of Concerned Catholics in nearby Bangalore Archdiocese, filed the complaint on Nov. 5.

However, police said they took more than 20 days to formally register the complaint because they wanted to ascertain the veracity of the allegations through a preliminary probe.

Diocesan public relations officer Father Leslie Moras, however, denied the charges.

“These are concocted charges to defame the bishop and others,” he told ucanews on Dec. 3. “We are ready to face a probe, and the facts will be established. The truth will prevail in the police probe.” 

The police move comes a month after 37 of some 100 priests in the diocese sought Vatican action against Bishop William for allegedly being a womanizer, fathering two children, and financial misappropriation.

Soon after the allegations surfaced, Bishop William told ucanews that priests opposed to his administrative reforms were behind the charges.

The prelate also struck a reconciliatory note rather than acting against those accusing him. “We believe in reconciliation and not any retaliatory action,” he said.

According to Rosario’s complaint, the bishop and his men kidnapped a 25-year-old Catholic woman who worked in the diocesan family commission. They also destroyed evidence against the bishop and threatened to kill her if she moved against the bishop, the complaint said.

She “did not register a police complaint because she fears for her life,” Rosario told ucanews.

He said the woman, however, had sent a video of her ordeal to Vatican officials but had received no response. He filed the police complaint “as a law-abiding citizen” to ensure justice.

The alleged victim worked with the diocesan office for five years until May 2017 and left the job three months after Bishop William assumed office in February 2017.

During the three months, she was witness to several violations by the bishop involving women, Rosario said. She also had evidence to prove the “bishop’s immoral life, corruption and other illegalities,” he added.

Rosario said the woman was kidnapped by some men on the orders of Bishop William in July 2018 and blindfolded and driven away in a car. At an unknown place, the kidnappers took her mobile phone and deleted all its messages, recordings and other evidence.

“They also threatened to kill her if she complained,” Rosario said. “We want a thorough probe into the allegations to ensure that trust in the office of the bishop is not eroded in the light of suspicions.” 

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