Thirty-seven parish priests of the Mysore diocese are being transferred after they levelled severe allegations against Mysore diocese Bishop William. The charges range from financial frauds, kidnap harassment and even a sex scandal, Bangalore Mirror reported.
According to media reports, on July 20 last year, the priests wrote to the Apostolic Nuncio to India (the head of the diplomatic mission of the Holy See) and also to Pope Francis, highlighting how Bishop William had brought disrepute to the Diocese and how it was necessary to remove him from the post to restore the dignity of the church and the Diocese of Mysore. They had said that if the same was not done urgently, people would go to civil authorities and eventually to media persons.
On May 29, Bishop William issued a transfer order for 38 priests (the 37 who had complained against him plus another one) without consulting them. The complainants have been sending representations to the higher authorities and legal experts, including Justice Michael Francis Saldanha, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court.
While talking to media, Justice Saldanha said that when the allegations made by the 37 priests were investigated independently, all the charges were found to be true. “I have written letters to the Archbishop of Bengaluru about the charges made by the priests, but I am yet to get a reply,” Justice Saldanha said.
When contacted by media, Archbishop of Bengaluru Machado said, “I am in the process of replying to Justice Saldanha. I had already forwarded the letters written by priests from Mysore Diocese to the Apostolic Nunciature to India as per the protocol,” said. The Archbishop also said that he could not advise or interfere with the Bishop of Mysore Diocese, but could only act as per directions from the higher authorities.
According to media reports, one of the charges against him is that he had an affair with a woman and also had a child with her. The Association of Concerned Catholics has alleged that there are at least four women who have complained against Bishop William.
So far, several such abuse complaints against Christian priests have been registered. Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal is facing trial in the case pertaining to sexual assault on a nun of a convent at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for rape, unnatural sex, illegal detention, and criminal intimidation. Though the nun had complained to the police in 2017 June, the investigation commenced only after protests by a group of nuns under the banner ‘Save our sisters’ in Kochi. Franco was arrested on September 21, 2018.
According to a 2004 research study
by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of under-age sexual abuse by 10,667 individuals.