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Vatican replaces Indian bishop accused of serious crimes

A bishops team probed allegations of murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, etc. against Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore

Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore

Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore. (Photo: UCAN files)

Published: January 09, 2023 06:30 AM GMT

Updated: January 09, 2023 07:00 AM GMT

An Indian Catholic bishop probed by a Vatican-appointed team of bishops for alleged involvement in serious crimes like murder, rape and misappropriation of church funds, has been ordered to “take a period of absence from the ministry.”

Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore (now Mysuru) has been replaced by retired Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore as apostolic administrator of southern India’s Karnataka state.

“I wish to inform that The Dicastery of Evangelization has appointed His Grace Most Rev Bernard Moras, Apostolic Administrator sede plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Diocese of Mysore for the ordinary administration and pastoral care of that local Church,” Archbishop Felix Machado, secretary-general at the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said in a Jan.7 communication to cardinals, archbishops and bishops in India.

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The appointment became effective from Jan. 7, he added.

Significantly, the Vatican order only mentions “a period of absence from the ministry” for Bishop William without specifying any details.

The prelate himself announced on Jan.1 after a Mass that he was going on “medical leave” and asked for prayers.

“The hand of God has struck decisively"

“The Vatican decision has proved the universal saying that truth triumphs and the Catholic Church stands for truth, justice and for the Gospel values, [and] thus never reconciles with the powers of Hades,” Father Gnana Prakash, a senior priest of Mysore diocese, who sought action against the bishop, told UCA News.

Father Prakash said the Vatican action followed meticulous scrutiny and proper investigation of the allegations by a three-member bishops’ inquiry committee comprising Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, Bishop J. Susai Manickam of Sivagangai and Bishop Alex Vadakumthala of Kannur.

The priest, in a July 5, 2022, letter to Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the apostolic nuncio to India, had accused Bishop William who was appointed by Pope Francis in 2017, of murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, and embezzlement of funds.

A chaotic situation had persisted in the diocese for more than four years as some 37 priests reported scandalous issues involving the prelate to the Holy See.

Soon after the allegations surfaced, Bishop William told UCA News that they were baseless and some priests were targeting him for his efforts to reform the Church.

“The hand of God has struck decisively, William has gone for good and the cleansing has begun but it will be a long process,” retired Justice Michael F. Saldanha, who campaigned for the prelate’s dismissal, told UCA News.

"It is nevertheless a welcome step in the purgation of the Catholic Church in India"

The former high court judge had urged the pope and the apostolic nuncio to remove Bishop William latest by Jan.1, failing which he would file a complaint with the police for his alleged role in the murders of four diocesan priests and massive defalcation of parish funds for 11 years.

“Even though this may be termed as a ‘soft dismissal’ it is nevertheless a welcome step in the purgation of the Catholic Church in India,” Chhotebhai, convener of the Indian Catholic Forum, a laity organization that sought action against the bishop, said in a statement.

He said that even before his appointment as bishop, William had been under a cloud of suspicion for alleged criminal acts, including fathering of children and gross financial misappropriation.

“As many as 37 priests of the diocese and over 100 prominent lay persons had submitted several petitions to Propaganda Fide, the Nunciature, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India,” Chhotebhai, who uses a mononym, added.

Welcoming the Vatican action, Dominic Lobo, a prominent human rights activist, though said “it is too little too late.”

“Defrocking the controversial prelate should prevent defaming the good image of the Catholic Church in this multi-faith country,” he added.

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5 Comments on this Story
DOMINIC LOBO
A good point raised in the UCAN article is that the Vatican communique does not specify details !! Pray why the secrecy and is a small window being left open for William to return after the storm calms? Also the fact that the inquiry report of the three member Bishops committee not being made public even in this era of transperant functioning lends credence to the Papal backed assurance of Cardinal Gracias during his conversation with William that went viral about the paternity test and media being 'managed' was indeed a Vatican gameplan to rescue William at all costs so that the other cans of worms don't open up in other similar cases/scandals of Gracias, Franco, Dabre et al. Even if a Vatican cover is provided the Indian law enforcement agencies are a better option to nail these corrupt and immoral so called pious religious servants of the people.
CHHOTEBHAI
In my press release I had also demanded that the paternity test ordered by Cardinal Tagle on 15/8/2020 be conducted forthwith. I also discussed the CBCI communique with a Canon lawyer. He sates that in the New Code of canon Law there is no provisioon for an Apostolic Administrator; there can only be a Diocesan Administrator after the See falls vacant. As per the communique the See is not vacant and William continues to be the bishop in absentia. Hence the struggle for justice must continue till its logical conclusion
RK
He is so dangerous to the Christian community...... himself behaves as rowdy
RK
Not only bishop in Mysore diocese,many priests following him as slaves....
JOHN MASCARENHAS
WHY WAS THIS CRIMINAL ELEVATED TO THE STATUS OF BISHOP? WHY HAS HE BEEN PERMITTED TO COMMIT HIS CRIMES WITH THE CHURCHS KNOWING? WHY HAS IT TAKEN 4 YRS TO GET HIM TO STAND ASIDE? WHY HAS THE REPORT BY THE SELECTED BISHOPS NOT REACHED A CONCLUSION FOR THE VATICAN TO DEFROCK THE CRIMINAL? WHO IS PROTECTING HIM????? A QUESTION TO JUSTICE MICHAEL SALDANHA...AS A PERSON OF LAW, WHY HAVE YOU NOT REPORTED THIS CRIMINAL TO THE POLICE? ARE YOU PROTECTING THE CHURCH? WHAT ARE YOUR OBLIGATIONS TO THE STATE, THE VICTIMS AND THE CHURCH? I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA WHERE SUCH INCIDENCES HAVE BEEN HIDDEN FOR MANY YEARS BY THE holy CATHOLIC CHURCH. NOW IT IS MANDATORY FOR THE CHURCH OR VICTIMS TO REPORT SUCH CHURCH BASED CRIMINALS TO THE POLICE....FIRST! WHY IS A SIMILAR SAME LAW NOT APPLIED TO INDIA? ARE INDIAN CATHOLICS SECOND CLASS CHURCH CITIZENS?

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