Christian lay leaders in India have accused Church officials of ignoring Pope's instructions to deal with sex abuse by trying to shield a bishop facing allegations of murder, womanizing and corruption, UCA News reported.
Lay leaders Chhotebhai and Melwyn Fernandes urged the papal nuncio to India, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, to take action against Bishop Kannikadass Antony William of Mysore in Karnataka State.
Chhotebhai is the convener of the Indian Catholic Forum and adviser to Catholic Church Reform International, while Fernandes is general secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, a forum of laypeople in India.
According to the report, some 37 priests sought Bishop William's removal from office a year ago. The priests accused him of financial corruption, fathering children and having sexual relations with several women.
The priests also lodged their complaints with church leaders including Cardinal Oswald Gracias, one of the seven special advisers to Pope Francis and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.
Chhotebhai, in his June 24 open letter to Archbishop Diquattro, said the church hierarchy had ignored Pope Francis' apostolic letter Vos Estis Lux Mundi when they failed to act against the accused bishop.
The apostolic letter that came into effect on May 6, 2019, deals with Church clerical sex abuse. It covers "forcing someone, by violence or threat or through abuse of authority, to perform or submit to sexual acts."
Chhotebhai appealed to the nuncio to "take immediate action in the matter and remove" Bishop William from office.
Regarding the appeal, Father Nigel Barrett, the spokesperson of Cardinal Gracias, told media that the cardinal has "no jurisdiction to initiate any action against a bishop." "Since most charges against Bishop William are criminal in nature, it is for the police and the state to deal with them," he said.