Updated: March 01, 2021 09:37 AM GMT
Bishop K.A. William of Mysore denies any wrongdoing. (Photo: YouTube)
The Vatican is to investigate allegations against an Indian bishop two years after some priests and laypeople accused of him fathering two children and embezzling church funds.
A team of church people has been appointed to probe the claims against Bishop K.A. William of Mysore (now Mysuru) Diocese in southern India's Karnataka state, said a church official who asked not to be named.
“Right now it is a preliminary investigation to find out if there is any truth in the allegations … because there are several cases where false charges are leveled against leaders to tarnish their image,” the official told UCA News on Feb. 27.
He refused to disclose details of the officials involved in the investigation in case “it will adversely affect the fact-finding mission.”
However, retired Justice Michael F. Saldanha, prominent among those who sought action against the bishop, has written to national bishops’ conference officials seeking to have an audience with the Vatican-appointed probe team.
In the letter circulated on social media, Saldanha claimed to have official information on the appointment of the team. He said his meeting with the team will help him detail his findings on the allegations.
Saldanha’s letter, addressed to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the national bishops' conference, and Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, president of the Latin-rite bishops’ conference, asked for the probe team members to be named.
Saldanha, a former judge in the high courts of Bombay and Karnataka, also wrote to Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who is believed to be heading the investigation team.
He called for church leaders to follow the laid-down procedures of India's Supreme Court, the top court in the country, to ensure transparency in the probe.
Saldanha’s seven-page letter sought an assurance that no vengeful action would be initiated against those who testify against Bishop William.
Melwyn Fernandes, general secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, a laity forum that sought action against the bishop, also welcomed the probe.
He told UCA News on Feb. 27 that those who have complained against the bishop are hopeful that that probe team “will come out with the truth of the matter and do justice to the Church.”
Bishop William took over the administration of the diocese in January 2017. Months after his consecration, 37 of his priests wrote to the Vatican seeking his removal and accusing him of fathering two children, keeping mistresses and misappropriating church funds.
Soon after the allegations surfaced, Bishop William told UCA News that the allegations were baseless and some priests were targeting him for his efforts to reform the Church. Some priests in comfort zones were upset by their transfers, he said.