Cardinal Gracias seeks to quash sex abuse cover-up case

Cardinal Gracias and two auxiliary bishops deny failing to initiate action against a priest accused of molesting a boy.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias (UCAN file photo)

New Delhi: India’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias and two of his auxiliary bishops have asked Bombay High Court to quash a case that accused them of failing to report to police alleged child sex abuse by a Catholic priest.

The top court of Maharashtra state on June 25 postponed hearing the case to July 1.

“The charge against the cardinal and his deputies is that they failed to initiate action, but it is incorrect. And therefore the police case is challenged in the High Court,” the clerics’ counsel Jayant Joseph Bardeskar told ucanews.com on June 25.

Mumbai police filed the case against Cardinal Gracias of Bombay and Bishops Dominic Savio and John Rodrigues accusing them of not acting against an archdiocese priest accused of molesting a child despite complaints from the child’s father.

Police filed charges under the directions of a special court functioning under a child protection law — Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) — enacted in 2012.

A section of the law stipulates a one-year jail term for any head of an institution who fails to report to police an alleged sexual offense by a subordinate against a minor.

Father Lawrence Johnson, 55, was arrested on Dec. 2, 2015, accused of having engaged in “sexual activities against the order of nature” with a boy aged 13. Police also charged him with violating several sections of POCSO.

The victim’s family accused the three prelates of not initiating action against the priest, who remains in prison.

However, archdiocesan spokesman Father Nigel Barrett told ucanews.com that the victim’s family approached police while the Church was planning to report it.

“There is no truth in the complaint and in the subsequent police case. The bishops have sought the intervention of the High Court to quash the police case,” he told ucanews.com.

The alleged incident took place on Nov. 27, 2015, according to the police complaint. The priest enticed the boy into a room, then closed the door before sexually abusing him. Medical examination of the boy four days later confirmed injuries to his private parts, court records show.

The diocese said his parents called on Cardinal Gracias three days after the alleged sexual violation took place.

The cardinal, who was leaving for Rome that night, discussed the issue for over an hour with the parents and assured them of all his support. He also immediately suspended the accused priest from priestly ministries and ordered an inquiry, Father Barrett told ucanews.com.

The cardinal arranged for the complaint to be reported to police the next day. But the family “lodged a complaint against the accused priest a couple of hours after meeting the cardinal and therefore it is wrong to accuse the cardinal of any kind of deliberate attempt to hush up the matter,” Father Barrett said.

Legal experts say that if the prelates fail to get any relief from the High Court, they can appeal in the Supreme Court, the top court in India.

If the Supreme Court also refuses to quash the case, the prelates will have to face the police investigation.

Cardinal Gracias is a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers to Pope Francis and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

Source: UCAN

Bhopal court acquits Catholic priest accused of rape

Madhya Pradesh court finds no evidence to support woman’s complaint.

File photo

Bhopal: A court in central India has acquitted a Catholic priest accused of raping a woman in his presbytery after it could not find any merit in the charges filed almost a year ago.

A trial court in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, acquitted 52-year-old Bhopal archdiocesan Father George Jacob on June 21.

The priest was arrested last Aug. 11 and sent to jail after a middle-aged woman complained that he raped her after inviting her to his presbytery.

The priest was released on bail on Aug. 20 after a medical report found him incapable of performing the sexual act.

The court conducted 10 hearings and examined medical reports, statements of witnesses and other scientific evidence before acquitting the priest.

Under his bail conditions, the priest visited the court once a month and signed a document.

The archdiocese has welcomed the court’s decision. “From the beginning, we were sure that the priest would be cleared of the charges,” said spokesman Father Maria Stephan.

The woman’s claim that the priest had invited her to his presbytery with the promise of offering her a job in a school where he was principal made the archdiocese suspicious about her claim, Father Stephan said. Father Jacob was a parish priest and not the principal of any school, he said.

The woman had also faked her own identity as an unmarried Hindu woman, but documents proved that she was married and a Muslim. Besides, she was also unable to give the exact time of the alleged incident among other many questions.

“It proved that the priest was trapped, probably for extortion of money,” Father Stephan said.

According to Father Jacob, the woman came to his presbytery asking for some drinking water. She entered the room and went to fetch the water. She then demanded money and he had to push her out, but there was no other physical contact, Father Stephen said.

Madhya Pradesh has witnessed several sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests in recent years.

Sanguinist Father Victor Mundargi was released on Feb. 28, 2018, two years after he was arrested on charges of raping a 10-year-old girl residing in a hostel under his care in Tappa village of Dewas district.

In September 2017, 40-year-old Father Sebastian Panthalluparambil, principal of the church-run Jyoti Senior Secondary School in Rewa district, was accused of molesting a girl student.

Father Panthalluparambil was exonerated after CCTV footage of the principal’s office at the time of the alleged incident proved the complaint was baseless.

On July 10 last year, police arrested Father Leo D’Souza, 56, following a complaint of sexual abuse by the parents of an eighth-grade boy of the church-run Amar Jyoti School in the tribal-dominated district of Dindori.

Father D’Souza, manager of the school run by Jabalpur Diocese, was later released by a court.

Christian leaders say missioners and priests are routinely arrested on fabricated charges at the behest of hard-line Hindu groups opposed to Christianity.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party ruled the state for 15 years until December 2018 when the secular Congress party won the state election.

Source: UCAN

Mother Teresa nuns face probe over funding allegations

Archbishop D’Souza says Jharkhand state’s move is harassment of Missionaries of Charity congregation.

Missionaries of Charity nuns attend a prayer program organized on the 21st anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa at her tomb inside the congregation’s headquarters in Kolkata on Sept. 5, 2018. (IANS photo)

New Delhi: A federal investigation into the Missionaries of Charity congregation of Mother Teresa has been recommended by India’s Jharkhand state following allegations that nuns diverted funds for unspecified objectives.

The state government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has recommended the federal Home Ministry to conduct a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into foreign donations received and spent by Missionaries of Charity and all its subsidiaries, media reports said on June 19.

In the past 11 years, according to Hindi media, the five main subsidiaries of Missionaries of Charity have spent 9.27 billion rupees (US$154 million) on purposes other than those specified in donations, which is illegal according to Indian laws.

The five subsidiaries include both active and contemplative sections of Missionaries of Charity Brothers, Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Missionaries of Charity Fathers.

Hindu groups in Jharkhand have accused Christians of diverting overseas donations so that they can be used for converting socially poor Hindu Dalits and tribal people in villages.

However, Missionaries of Charity spokeswoman Sunita Kumar told ucanews.com that media reports were “totally false and misleading.”

“Every single pie of donations is properly accounted and utilized only for the specified objectives … annual returns are filed as per law. We have no idea why we are being probed,” said Kumar, who is based in Kolkata, the eastern city where Missionaries of Charity is based.

Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata also expressed dismay over the development.

“They [the congregation] submit all their documents once every three months, file annual returns and complete all other formalities on time without fail,” he said. “I don’t understand why this kind of a probe is needed.”

He said if a government agency needs any clarification, they can do it without a probe and “that is the standard practice.”

“This probe seems like an attempt to harass the nuns, who work for the rejected and the neglected poor in society. The state should help them in their work rather than harassing them,” the archbishop said.

St. Teresa of Kolkata, popularly known as Mother Teresa, founded Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to serve the “poorest of the poor,” as testified in her biography. The congregation has 5,167 members serving in 760 homes in 139 countries. It has 244 homes in India.

Missionaries of Charity first came under investigation in Jharkhand last July after a federal ministry ordered an inspection of all its childcare homes after a nun was accused of selling babies for adoption.

Sister Concelia Balsa was arrested along with staff member Anima Indwar following a complaint that Indwar took money to provide a baby but failed to keep the promise. They were accused of having already sold three babies from the home.

The 61-year-old nun, a diabetic, and Indwar remain in jail after several courts, including the Supreme Court, denied them bail.

The Jharkhand government ordered another investigation last July into the activities of 88 Christian-managed organizations to check if they were diverting foreign contributions for proselytization.

Following that probe, the state government in April this year sought a federal probe into the foreign donations of 31 Christian organizations.

Christian leaders say the investigations are part of a government plan to tarnish the image of the 1.5-million-strong Christian community in the state.

Jharkhand has a relatively strong Christian presence comprising 4.3 percent of 32 million people, almost double the national figure.

Source: UCAN

Annual Novena for MOTHER OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR at Mahim- 2019.

It has been observed that readers are searching for Novena details on SILENT VOICE; Hence this post for the benefit of the readers.

GREG

 

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour 2019 Novena

PARISH PRIEST throws stone on SHIT & see what happens!

Dear Parishioners of St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani;

This is the last installment of my ‘CAMPAIGN AGAINST CORRUPTION’ in the parish. I thank you all for showing your support, vocally and silently; away from the glare of others, for obvious reasons.

Am contemplating to escalate this campaign at higher level because what is exposed over here is just the tip of an iceberg. It has been happening at the entire Archdiocese level.

While I was about to conclude, a tiny bird whispered  that an approval for Rs Seventy odd thousands was requested for polishing the tiles, which are laid around St. Anthony’s Grotto just a year ago for around Rs. TEN LAKHS. Some wise members from Property Committee opposed this move. Thereafter, it is given to understand that both, PROPERTY & FINANCE COMMITTEE is bifurcated.

GREG

“If the authorities succeed in acquiring the land, Fr. Agnelo Fernandes, PP will be responsible for it. He has such a bloated EGO that he has refused to seek help from SOUL TEAM.”

Devotees Praying at the GROTTO on the feast day, 16th, june. This GROTTO falls within the RL (Regular Line), of road widening.

 

VOICE OF THE SILENT MAJORITY

(CATHOLICS FOR TRUTH TRANSPARENCY AND WEEDING OF CORRUPT PRACTICES AT PARISH LEVEL)

 

MY RESPONSE TO PARISH PRIEST’S REPLY TO ARCHBISHOP

29th, May, 2019
To,
His Eminence,
Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay

Your Eminence,

I hope this letter finds you in pink of health. You have been very busy, travelling all over in the context of your Spiritual obligation towards your flock, even at this age. I have been reading about it in the Examiner, hence am concerned about it.
This is a delayed letter, rather held back intentionally, awaiting you to act in relation to my complaint against the Parish Priest and SOLE TRUSTEE of St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani.. Now that the Archdiocese appointments have been CONCLUDED without any relief to parishioners, I herewith CONCLUDE my campaign against corrupt practices of the Parish Priest.

This is with reference to Fr. Agnelo’s letter dated 25/11/2018 to you in the context of newly formed Property Committee and my deletion from it. As I have always been maintaining, any person willing to work for Church, doesn’t need to be part of any committee. Every Baptised Catholic has a right to form a group to serve the MOTHER CHURCH, not necessarily by being part of any COMMITTEE formed by the Parish. My Mission, under the Banner(VOICE OF THE SILENT MAJORITY) IS TO EXPOSE THE ROGUE ELEMENTS WITHIN, which I have been doing sincerely about which you are aware and have appreciated it too.

Constituted under Para 29 of Christifideles Laici
(Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation of H.H.Late Pope John Paul-II)

First of all, the freedom for lay people in the Church to form such groups is to be acknowledged. Such liberty is a true and proper right that is not derived from any kind of “concession” by authority, but flows from the Sacrament of Baptism, which calls the lay faithful to participate actively in the Church’s communion and mission.

His letter is too long but substance less. He has only hurled curses at me but has remained silent on my allegation of manipulation of tender process and violation of set norms. However, since I don’t want my response to be too long, will pick up few salient points from it and expose his lies further.

EXTRACTS FROM HIS LETTER AND MY RESPONSE:

Reason for his Non-Inclusion: his position in the Property Committee had become untenable because of his inconsistent behavior.

The fact is that I was the only person raising the questions about his unethical way of dealing with tendering process. If that is what makes my position untenable, so be it. My entire communication with him, copies of which have been marked to you and also explained to you in person during our meeting, revolves around violation of set norms by him. But he has not answered any of them in the letter. This proves that he had nothing to say about it all the while. Hence he was silent and not for the reason he has cited in his letter.

Only Greg sees evil where there is good! So he has asked for my Immediate transfer! But will he treat the new Parish Priest any differently than the way he has been treating almost all the Parish Priests? Can a Leopard Change its spots. May be, by God’s Grace.

I suppose he is trying to make it personal and divert attention from the actual reason, the manipulation of tenders and violation of set guidelines by hierarchy. His predecessor, Fr. Austin Norris was here for four years, but I never had any problem with him. He undertook a massive renovation of Church roof and other interiors and executed it efficiently at the cost of around Rs. 80,00,000/- (Rs. EIGHTY LAKHS). Though I was part of tendering process, never had problem; because the ENTIRE PROCESS WAS TRANSPARENT AND WITHIN THE SET GUIDELINES.

He forgets that when he undertook repair of school building, in his first year as Parish Priest, at the cost of around Rs. 35,00,000/- (Rs. THIRTY FIVE Lakhs), I was part of the process, which was transparent. In fact, a couple of times, I was the only person along with him attended meeting with the consultant when other members were not available. Why then I would oppose him now? The simple reason is that I SEE MANIPULATION IN CURRENT ACTIVITY, WHICH, HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOUR NOTICE THROUGH LETTERS AS WELL AS AT PERSONAL MEETING WITH YOU. There seem to be no answer to it.

“The candle seller sells candles right at the gate………….But each time I make a request, she screams and yells and refuses to budge………..As she is in the habit of unnecessarily yelling, I did call her once ‘halkat’. But other things attributed to me are completely false. Either Greg was misinformed or probably it is Greg himself who is adding a lot of ‘masala’ to a simple incident”.

Your Eminence, I do not want to contest his statement. However, as it has been stated in my letter, this family has been doing business in the same place for a very long time; but none of his predecessors or parishioners had any problem, because, they are occupying a very small portion at one end of the gate. Besides, why would a Parish Priest confront her personally till it reaches to the stage where she yelled at him? Normally, a Parish Priest would ask some of the members to deal with the matter, after experiencing her attitude at the first attempt and not continue with it. But he never mentioned it in any meeting about obstruction caused by her presence.
Knowing that my involvement would be questioned, I have recorded the lady’s statement on a Video, which is attached herewith. You may listen to it and draw your own conclusion and decide for yourself, whether I have added any MASALA to a SIMPLE INCIDENT.

“As one prominent member of Parish Council put it, crudely but aptly, ‘responding to him is like throwing a stone on SHIT’. If you respond to him nothing gets resolved, only the exchanges get uglier, as the man is full of venom and lies and the worst thing is that he believes in his own lies!”

Your Eminence, going through the letter, one can easily conclude who is full of Venom and who believes in one’s own lies. As regards to a prominent Parish Council member who advised him not to respond, citing a reason mentioned above; could be the one whom the parishioners are talking about or None. In fact he deterred to respond because of the truth that has been exposed by me and he has no answer to it.
The reason for responding to his letter is his filthy language coming out of his filthy mind. He has not thrown a stone in the SHIT but has thrown a large BOULDER, splashing the dirt right up to the Archbishop House, claiming a loss of Rupees 50,00,000/- (RUPEES FIFTY LAKHS) to him which he has demanded from me by serving a LEGAL NOTICE to me. Of course, the notice has been replied to.

(REPLY: To Legal Notice for Rupees Fifty Lakhs Defemation, Served by Parish Priest to a Parishioner;)

As expected, there seem to be no further action like filing a writ in court of law, against me, from his side, yet. Has he developed cold feet because, his alleged illegal financial activities where he claims to have incurred a loss of Rupees 50,00,000/- (Rupees FIFTY LAKHS) and blamed me, would be exposed OR was he just trying to frighten me into submission under the advice of his adviser? In either case, he has committed a CRIMINAL OFFENCE, which required your attention, unfortunately which you have ignored.
Surprisingly, your Eminence, in spite of having brought to your notice through the copy of my reply to his legal notice, you seem to be silent about it. This amounts to brushing vices of the subordinates under the carpet, for the reasons best known to you. The perception of Lay Faithful about you is, “CARDINAL IS LENIENT TOWARDS OFFENDING PRIESTS”. I too have developed this opinion, of you not acting against erring priests, particularly the ones holding a position as SOLE TRUSTEE. There has been a demand from Lay Faithful for a long time, to abolish the position of SOLE TRUSTEE, which can put a tab on uncontrolled expenditure of Church finances by Parish Priest.
While on the subject, I must bring to your notice that none of his team members attended any meeting of Property and Finance Committee, throughout his tenure as it used to be during his predecessors.
Bishop John Rodrigues and you met him to discuss on my complaint. But both of you are silent on the outcome. Have you given CLEAN CHIT to him? If it is so, please let the parishioners know. Your Eminence, this habit of Hierarchy of brushing the issues under the carpet and covering up the misdeeds of your subordinates, has recently put you in trouble, which we feel bad, about. (Cardinal Gracias to be investigated over abuse cover-up claim)

In case you are unaware, let me bring it to your notice. BMC authorities have again served land acquisition NOTICE to the school for road widening. SOUL- Save Our Land, under the leadership of Fr. Austin Norris had stalled BMC from doing so. Just to remind, you had sent your emissary Fr. KT with your message, which was read to the massive gathering, at the AZAD MAIDAN RALLY, organized by SOUL to protest against unjust land acquisition. Parish has never been against surrendering the land but against MANIPULATION OF RL. Because of it RL is moved towards Church Property in unjust manner. BMC authorities were quite since this manipulation of RL was brought to their notice.
If the authorities succeed in acquiring the land, Fr. Agnelo Fernandes, PP will be responsible for it. He has such a bloated EGO that he has refused to seek help from SOUL TEAM.
Your Eminence, you too will be partly responsible for the debacle. Your inaction against him has emboldened him and he continued to carry out his money spending spree on renovation of Church surrounding, ignoring the simple logic ,”NEVER CHALLENGE AUTHORITIES WHEN YOUR HOUSE IS SITUATED ON EDGE OF A CLIFF”. To put it simply, since the area is under dispute, Renovation of compound wall of the Church shouldn’t have been undertaken. This amounted to challenging and antagonizing BMC, hence the land acquisitions NOTICE.

John 2:13-16
Jesus Clears the Temple Courts
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

Your Eminence, in present day context you are looked upon by Lay Faithful as Jesus Christ who should be driving away the Money Changers from the House of God. But alas, that doesn’t seem to be.

A song in EAST INDIAN DIALECT of yesteryears, describes this situation in two lines, which are produced and translated here.

बोंब आपलि ऐकनार कोन, पनमेसोर गेले नींगून
सैतानं बैसल्यान आंयें आल्तेरं आरवून.
(GODS have gone away and DEMONS are ruling HOLY ALTERS! Who’ll Listen to our Yells?)

Your Eminence, I leave it to you to draw your own conclusion and if deemed fit, to restore sanity of the position you hold.

GREG R. PEREIRA
Parishioner,
St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani.

WE ARE COMMITTED TO VOICE OUR CONCERN, AGAINST ANY UNDESIRABLE ACTIONS WITHIN THE CHURCH, 

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