Bombay archdiocese counters BBC claims on cardinal’s response to abuse

February 23, 2019 Matters India

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

 

By Nirmala Carvalho

Mumbai, Feb. 23, 2019: The Archdiocese of Bombay says a BBC report on Cardinal Oswald Gracias about clerical sexual abuse did not give the full story on his response to an allegation against a priest of the archdiocese.

In a Feb. 21 report, the BBC said the cardinal failed to “respond quickly or offer support to the victims” when informed about abuse.

Cardinal Gracias is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and a part of the four-member organizing committee for this week’s Vatican summit on clerical sexual abuse.

In the case of Father Lawrence Johnson, who was arrested in 2016 for allegations of the sexual abuse of a child, the BBC said the family of a boy abused by the priest met briefly with Gracias in 2015, shortly before the cardinal was scheduled to leave for Rome.

“I told the cardinal about what the priest had done to my child, that my child was in a lot of pain. So he prayed for us and told us he had to go to Rome…my heart was hurt in that moment,” the boy’s mother told the BBC.

“As a mother, I had gone to him with great expectations that he would think about my son, give me justice, but he said he had no time, he only cared about going to Rome,” she said.

The BBC claimed Gracias may have violated India’s Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) by not reporting the allegation to police.

A statement from the archdiocese said that the cardinal had immediately granted the request to meet with the family after hearing of the accusation, met the victim, the parents of the victim and the family friend, who alleged that Johnson had sexually abused the child.

“The cardinal tried to console the parents. The cardinal was to leave for Rome that same night. After the complainants left, the cardinal at once phoned up Father Johnson and informed him of the allegations made against him, and although Father Johnson denied the allegations, the cardinal removed him from office immediately and told him that he was not even allowed to celebrate Mass the next morning. Father Johnson wanted to meet the cardinal personally, but the cardinal told him that he was leaving for Rome in a couple of hours and to meet Bishop John Rodrigues instead,” the statement said.

Rodrigues is an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Bombay.

The archdiocese said that Gracias immediately phoned his auxiliary and asked him to keep in touch with the family and to start an inquiry while Gracias was in Rome. Upon arrival in Rome, the cardinal called Rodrigues about contacting the police.

“At that time, Bishop John told the cardinal that the police had already been informed by the family the previous night. On his return from Rome, the cardinal made an appointment with a counselor to counsel the victim, but he was told by Bishop John Rodrigues that the family had said that the government authorities were making arrangements for a counselor,” the archdiocesan statement said.

Bishop Rodrigues told Crux that he asked Father Lancy Pinto, the dean of Kurla deanery, “to look after the survivor.”

The archdiocese noted that it had previously established a Corpus Fund to help needy parishioners needing medical assistance, and that Pinto had spoken to a friend of the family informing them the archdiocese was ready to support them as needed.

Pinto also visited the victim’s home and met the father of the victim, and asked him what the archdiocese could to do to help – the victim’s father said “there was no need,” according to the statement.

“Father Lancy also told the father, at that time, that in case the boy needed any medical help or counselling, he could get in touch with him (Father Lancy). The victim’s father thanked Father Lancy and told him that, at present, they did not need any help,” the statement said.

Speaking to Crux, the priest added he made the visit even though he had been cautioned that it could be misconstrued as “an attempt to silence or cover up.”

“I offered financial assistance for their legal expenses, informing them that the Archdiocese of Bombay would provide help, but they declined saying that they were receiving help,” Pinto said.

The archdiocesan statement added that many other attempts were made to reach out to the victim but the family declined any help, and that Cardinal Gracias “tried on many occasions to reach out to the family and the victim, but they refused to meet the cardinal.”

“The cardinal understands their pain and is ready to give all assistance,” the statement said.

(Source: cruxnow.com, February 23, 2019)

Courtesy: MATTERS INDIA

Archbishop Oswald Cardinal Gracias holds Vatican summit amid protests

At the centre of a controversy for ignoring complaints of sexual abuse, Cardinal Oswald Gracias opens second day of ‘sexual abuse’ summit at the Vatican as one of its heads

| Mumbai Mirror Bureau
mirrorfeedback@timesgroup.com
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Cardinal Gracias at Christmas Midnight Mass in Mumbai last year; Mumbai Mirror report on the protests yesterday

Amid protests by a section of Catholic community in Mumbai, Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, opened the second day of a landmark summit at the Vatican on tackling paedophilia in the clergy. At the centre of controversy himself over ignoring complaints of sexual abuse, Cardinal Gracias acknowledged the global scale of the child sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and said that it was “unacceptable” that some Asian and African bishops are refusing to admit ‘clerical paedophilia’ as
an issue.

“The point is clear. No bishop may say to himself, ‘This problem of abuse in the Church does not concern me, because things are different in my part of the world’,” said Cardinal Gracias, who has been accused of failing to act when kin of victims of sexual abuse approached him in Mumbai. One of the heads of this four-day summit convened by Pope Francis, Cardinal Gracias has also been frequently tipped as a possible contender to be the next pope.

According to a BBC investigation, which was followed up by Mumbai Mirror and reported on Friday, the Archbishop was approached by a family in 2015 with the complaint that their son had returned from Mass saying he was raped by a parish priest. Cardinal Gracias, however, had allegedly left for Rome that night without immediately reporting the incident to the police, which is also against the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

This incident was allegedly one of the two cases where families said they were dissatisfied with the Archbishop’s response to allegations. In the other incident, a priest was purportedly allowed to continue
offering prayer retreats despite a woman accusing him of sexual abuse. According to Mirror’s Friday report, the Archbishop Cardinal is also accused of supporting the priest legally in court.

Cardinal Gracias was forced to admit to the BBC, “You know I’m being honest, I’m not 100 per cent sure… but I must reflect on that. I admit whether immediately, the police should have got involved, sure.” When Mirror contacted the Archbishop on Thursday, he denied all allegations and claimed no one had approached him. Mirror, however, has the copy of the letter written by the first family to Cardinal Gracias.

Pope Francis has been under sustained pressure to tackle abuse issues in the beleaguered institution after numerous stories of paedophilia emerged in countries across the world. To combat the malaise within, the Pope opened the first-of-its-kind global summit on Thursday, calling on the 114 top bishops present to forge “concrete measures” to deal with sex abuse cases in the Church, which has further been accused of covering up crimes committed by priests.

“Although the experience of abuse seems dramatically present in certain parts of the world, it is not a limited phenomenon,” Gracias said at the summit, adding, “The entire Church must take an honest look, undertake rigorous discernment, and act decisively.”

The victims’ groups, however, insisted the centuries-old institution should get on with punishing all abusers and enablers. “We have heard these words before,” survivors’ network SNAP said in a statement. The group also accused the Pope of allowing cardinals and bishops “who have had an active role in covering up” sex abuse to attend the summit, saying it showed they were “able to openly flout the very policies designed to hold them accountable”. Any new measures are not expected to come until after the summit, which winds up on Sunday with Pope’s speech.

India Catholic Cardinal Oswald Gracias ‘failed abuse victims’

By Priyanka Pathak
Global religion reporter, Delhi

BBC NEWS

21 February 2019

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, during the launch of the bishops' declaration on climate justice on 26 October 2018 in Rome, Italy.
Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Cardinal Oswald Gracias told the BBC it pained him to hear accusations that he had neglected victims of alleged abuse

One of the Catholic Church’s most senior cardinals has admitted that he could have better handled sexual abuse allegations that were brought to him.

Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai is one of four men organising a major Vatican conference on child abuse this week.

We found two separate cases where the cardinal, who is tipped by some to possibly become the next Pope, is claimed to have failed to respond quickly or offer support to the victims.

Victims and those who supported them allege that Cardinal Gracias did not take allegations of abuse seriously when they were reported to him.

India’s Catholics say there is a culture of fear and silence in the Catholic Church about sexual abuse by priests. Those who have dared to speak out say it has been an ordeal.

How will Pope Francis deal with abuse in the Catholic Church?

US ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick defrocked over abuse claims

‘My heart was hurt’

The first case dates back to 2015 in Mumbai.

A woman’s life changed when her son returned from Mass at the church and told her that the parish priest had raped him.

“I could not understand what should I do?” she said. She did not know this yet, but this event would put her on a collision course with the Catholic Church in India.

Media captionWhy is India’s Catholic church silent about sexual abuse?
The man she reached out to for help was and remains one of the most senior representatives of the Church.

It was nearly 72 hours after the alleged rape that the family briefly met Cardinal Gracias, then president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India and Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

The issue of sexual abuse within the Church is being called the Vatican’s biggest crisis in modern times, and the integrity of the Catholic Church is said to ride on the outcome of this conference.

Pope Francis, flanked by Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias (L) and other bishops, arrives at Synod Hall in Vatican City on 24 October 2015

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Pope Francis with Cardinal Oswald Gracias (fourth from left)

Over the past year, the Catholic Church has been reeling under multiple allegations of sexual abuse around the world.

But while abuse claims have made headlines in North and South America, Europe and Australia, very little is known about the problems in Asian countries. In countries such as India there is a social stigma about reporting abuse.

Among Christians, who are a minority of nearly 28 million people, a culture of fear and silence makes it impossible to gauge the true scale of the problem.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago – a colleague of Cardinal Gracias on the four-member organising committee – has promised that decisive action in Rome and in dioceses worldwide will follow after the meeting so as to safeguard children and bring justice to the victims.

Cardinal Gracias will open the second day of the summit with a conversation about accountability in the Church.

Brigitte, a survivor of child sex abuse by a chaplain, explains why she is ready to speak now
This vital role given to him during this crucial conference has made some in India unhappy.

They say his track record in protecting children and women from abusers is questionable. Those we have spoken to who have taken cases to him say they received little support from him.

The mother of the abused boy said: “I told the cardinal about what the priest had done to my child, that my child was in a lot of pain. So he prayed for us and told us he had to go to Rome…my heart was hurt in that moment.

“As a mother, I had gone to him with great expectations that he would think about my son, give me justice, but he said he had no time, he only cared about going to Rome.”

The family say they requested medical help but were offered none.

The cardinal told us it pained him to hear this, and that he was not aware that the boy needed medical help – and if he had been asked, he would have immediately offered it.

The Archbishop's house in Mumbai

The cardinal admits he left for Rome that night without alerting the authorities.

By failing to call the police, Cardinal Gracias may have violated India’s Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

The provisions of this law state that if the head of any company or institution fails to report the commission of an offence in respect of a subordinate under his control, they shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, and with a fine.

The cardinal told us he had telephoned his bishop the next day, who told him the family had subsequently informed the police themselves.

Asked if he regretted not calling the police personally at the time, he said: “You know I’m being honest, I’m not 100% sure… but I must reflect on that. I admit whether immediately, the police should have got involved, sure.”

He says he was under a duty to evaluate the credibility of accusations by speaking to the accused man.

Emerging from that meeting, the family decided to go to a doctor.

“He took one look at my boy and said that something has happened to him. This is a police case. Either you report it or I will… so we went to the police that night,” the mother said.

A police medical examination found that the child had been sexually assaulted.

Indian Catholics pray during Friday afternoon service at the Holy Name Cathedral in Mumbai on 15 March 2013.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
India is home to about 19 million Catholics

A current priest who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity said this was not the first time allegations about this priest had been brought to the cardinal’s attention.

“I met him some years before this [alleged] incident,” the priest told us.

“There were strong rumours about [the accused priest] in the diocese, and like these are about abuse that is taking place. And yet he seems to be moving from one place to another, one parish to another. The cardinal told me directly that he is not aware directly of all these things.”

The cardinal says he cannot recall the conversation. He says he did not recollect any “cloud of suspicion” over the man.

‘A lonely battle’

As part of our investigation, we wanted to see if there were other allegations of the cardinal being slow to act.

We found an instance dating back almost a decade, brought to his attention just a couple of years after becoming archbishop of Mumbai.

Virginia Saldanha.
Catholic activist Virginia Saldanha says three legal notices were sent to the cardinal, threatening court action unless took action about the claims of abuse

In March 2009, a woman approached him with accusations of sexual abuse by another priest who conducted retreats.

She says that he took no action against the priest so she reached out to a group of female Catholic activists, who say they forced the cardinal to act.

Under pressure, he finally set up an enquiry committee in December 2011. Six months after the enquiry, there was still no action and the accused priest continued working in his parish.

“We had to send the cardinal three legal notices to act, threaten to take the matter to the courts if he did not act,” said Virginia Saldanha, a devout Catholic who has worked on the women’s desk of multiple Church-affiliated positions for over two decades.

When the cardinal replied, he said: “The priest is not listening to me.”

Blurred image of family

The family says they have been ostracised from the church and isolated within their communities since reporting the sexual assault

During the time, Saldanha said she had to leave the church because “I could not bear to see that man giving Mass in the church. I did not feel like going there.”

The priest was eventually removed from his parish, but the reasons for his departure were never made public.

The punishment, decided by the cardinal personally in October 2011, was a “guided retreat and therapeutic counselling”.

When we pressed him about the speed of process and punishment, the cardinal said it was a “complicated case”.

After a stay in the seminary, the accused priest was briefly given a parish again and still conducts retreats.

Meanwhile, the family of the allegedly raped minor feel abandoned by the institution that they had built their lives around.

“It has been a lonely battle,” the mother concedes. They say they have been ostracised from the church and isolated within their communities.

“After complaining to the police, when we would go into church, people would refuse to talk to us, to sit next to us during Mass. If I went to sit next to someone… they would get up and leave,” she said.

The hostility she encountered eventually “made us leave the church. But it got so difficult for us that we eventually had to change our home as well. We left it all behind”.

Church members say that it is this hostility that makes it harder for victims and their families to speak up.

Caught between an apparently unsupportive clergy and hostile social network, many find their voices faltering.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47302447

REPORT IN MUMBAI MIRROR OF 22.2.2019

Pope Francis opens summit on child sexual abuse

COMMUNITY SLAMS PRESENCE OF ARCHBISHOP ON SEX ABUSE COMMITTEE

Cardinal Oswald Gracias accused of not acting on sexual abuse
complaints; he says nobody approached him
| Linah.Baliga@timesgroup.com
TWEETS @MumbaiMirror
As Pope Francis convened a meeting of church leaders at the Vatican on Thursday to address the issue of sexual abuse by clerics, Archdiocese of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who is also one of the heads of the four-day summit, has come under fire for allegedly failing to act when kin of victims of abuse approached him in Mumbai. Terming Cardinal Gracias’s appointment as one of the heads of summit as “ironical”, a section of Catholic community from the city has also questioned his access to the prestigious international platform. Cardinal Gracias will open the second day of the summit today in Rome, to address the accountability of the church. Incidentally, there are also whispers of him being the next Pope.
According to a BBC report released yesterday, the first such case of alleged neglect and indifference by Cardinal Gracias towards cases of sexual abuse dates back to 2015. A Mumbai-based family had approached him with the case of rape of their son, allegedly by a parish priest at a mass. The Cardinal purportedly went to Rome that night without alerting the authorities, and only later phoned the bishop to discuss the matter.
Mirror contacted the family of the victim of alleged sexual abuse. The mother of the victim claimed, “When we approached him after our son was abused by a priest, he gave us 10-15minutes. He said he was going to Rome and will see what to do. He is not fit to be the church head. He should step down. My heart burns till today for the trauma my little son had to go through. I will neither forgive the Cardinal nor the priest.” Mirror is also in possession of the letter sent by the family to Cardinal Gracias in 2015.
When Cardinal Gracias was contacted in the Vatican, he refuted all allegations and said, “We have spoken to a few victims of sexual abuse before coming for the summit. Certainly no sexual abuse victim approached me with any complaints. These allegations are not true at all.”

Advocate Charmaine Bocaro, who is fighting for the victim, claimed that Cardinal Gracias was the wrong choice on the summit. “Neither was financial or psychological aid given, nor did the Cardinal adopt humanitarian approach. When the matter was brought to his notice, he should have informed the police. There is a mandatory provision under the POCSO Act,” she said, adding that the POCSO Act specifically requires the head of any company or institution to report a possible offence committed by a subordinate
under his or her control.

Nahur resident Silveris Fernandes said, “In his position, Cardinal Gracias could have also defrocked Bishop Franko Mullakal. But he failed to do so. Other Catholics think we are against the church. But lives are ruined here. Counsellors are costly. I know of a girl from a choir group who lost her sanity after she was raped by a priest. I am glad the laity and the nuns are coming out now.”
Vincy Nazareth, a Mahim resident said, “The Cardinal tried to wriggle himself out by blaming the complainant without hearing them out. It is ridiculous for a man of his stature to be on the panel of the Pope’s community for sexual abuse.”

Anil Joseph, a Bandra resident from St Ann’s Church parish alleged, “The old adage states that charity begins at home. Similarly, justice must start with the Cardinal’s home turf, which is India, where we have certain diocese and bishops not adhering to guidelines. In fact, nuns are being harassed for supporting the rape survivor. In Mumbai, a priest who sodomised a boy is being supported legally by the Archdiocese.”

Judith Monteiro, a Dadar resident and parishioner of Our Lady of Salvation Church said, “When will Cardinal Oswald’s conscience catch up with him. His introspection surely told him he has failed the rape victims, be it the sodomised kids in Mumbai or nuns and the laity.” Advocate Archie Sodder, member of Association of Concerned Catholics said, “A person with a clean slate should be on this panel. He should step down immediately in the interest of justice, considering that under the POCSO Act, once there is an allegation, there is presumption of guilt.”

Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, committee member, Bombay Catholic Sabha, chose to see his appointment at the summit from a different perspective and said, “Sexual harassment is violation of human dignity. In this context appointment of Cardinal Gracias by his holiness Pope Francis on a committee to investigate such matters
is a signal in the right direction.

 

Denial at Vatican summit on sex abuse ‘unacceptable’

Archbishop of Malta says attendees at historic meeting can no longer stay silent or pretend crimes never took place.

Denial at Vatican summit on sex abuse 'unacceptable'
Victims of sexual abuse (from left) Maniuse Mileiosky, Benjamin Kitobo, Peter Saunders, Jacques, Marek Lisinski and Denise Buchanan pose in front of St. Peter’s Square on Feb. 18 in Rome. After years of struggling alone, or finding support in national groups, survivors of clerical child abuse have formed a new international alliance for the first time to pressure the Church to face up to its alleged crimes. (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
Vatican City
February 19, 2019

When presented with an accusation that a priest has sexually abused a child, “whether it’s criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial” on a very human level, such reactions are no longer tolerable, according to the Vatican’s top investigator of abuse cases.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, who handles abuse cases as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was part of a panel of speakers at a news conference on Feb. 18.
It aimed to outline the Vatican’s plans and hopes for the summit meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.
The Feb. 21-24 meeting will bring together almost 190 church leaders: the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of religious orders of men and women, Roman Curia officials and invited experts and guest speakers.
After reciting the Angelus on Feb. 17, Pope Francis publicly asked Catholics around the world to pray for the summit, and he repeated the request on Feb. 18 in a tweet, saying he wanted the meeting to be “a powerful gesture of pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge.”
At the news conference, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago told reporters, “The Holy Father wants to make very clear to the bishops around the world, not only those participating, that each one of them has to claim responsibility and ownership for this problem and that there is going to be every effort to close whatever loopholes there are.”
Bishops “are going to be held accountable,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Cupich said he expected the meeting to be “a turning point” in the way the Church handles allegations across the globe and the way it strengthens child protection policies.
However, like the other speakers, he said it would be unreasonable to expect the meeting to mark a sudden and complete end to the clerical sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
“We are going to do everything possible to make sure people are held responsible, accountable, and there’s going to be transparency, because those three elements will keep children safe,” the cardinal said.
Both Archbishop Scicluna and Cardinal Cupich insisted that if all church leaders around the world had a full grasp of what is necessary to protect children from clerical sexual abuse, the Church would be in a better position to counter other situations of abuse, including vulnerable adults, women, and seminarians.
While declining to describe if or how he had seen Pope Francis change in response to the abuse accusations, Archbishop Scicluna said, “I think that if you are talking about the pope’s experience in Chile,” where he initially insisted allegations against a bishop were slanderous, “I have been impressed by the humility of the Holy Father, his readiness to say, ‘I got that wrong.'”
“That gives us great hope because we leaders need to confront ourselves with prudential judgments that could have been better,” but also need to “move forward,” the archbishop said.
“If something has gone wrong, we need to make it right.”
While the summit was not designed to produce a new document, Archbishop Scicluna said a greater awareness of the global reality of the problem, and the serious responsibility of every bishop to address it should lead to action around the world.

Participants will share what they learned in Rome with other bishops and religious superiors, and begin to take action locally, the archbishop said. “That will need to be audited,” and Pope Francis has asked the meeting’s organizing committee to stay in Rome after the meeting to begin discussing follow-up.
The panel was asked by a correspondent for LifeSiteNews if the summit would address “homosexuality among the clergy” given that so many of the victims of clerical sexual abuse were boys.
Cardinal Cupich said independent studies, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice report in the United States, and the report of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, “indicated that homosexuality itself is not a cause.”
Both found priest abusers had more access to potential male victims and that poor screening of candidates for the priesthood was a greater risk factor for abuse than homosexuality, he said.
Each of the first three days of the meeting will be devoted to one aspect of the abuse crisis: responsibility, accountability and transparency.
Pope Francis and participants will attend a penitential liturgy on the evening of Feb. 23, and a Mass on Feb. 24, both of which will be live-streamed from the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace.
The main speakers for the meeting’s general assemblies are: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines; Archbishop Scicluna; Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota; Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai; Cardinal Cupich; Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; Sister Veronica Openibo, superior of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus; German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising; and Valentina Alazraki, a Mexican television journalist.

 

Courtesy: Catholic News Service

Vatican clears Indian nun for sainthood

Kerala-born Blessed Mariam Thresia worked to help the poor, sick and afflicted.

Indian nun Blessed Mariam Thresia was cleared for canonization by the Vatican on Feb. 13. (Photo courtesy of catholicsaints.info)

Kochi: India will soon have a new saint after Kerala-born nun Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan was cleared for canonization by the Vatican.

Pope Francis has authorized the Congregation for the Cause of Saints to publish a decree recognizing a miracle through the intercession of the nun, the Vatican announced on Feb. 13.

The recognition of the miracle was “the last step for the canonization and it’s cleared now,” said Sister Punneliparambil Udaya, superior general of the Holy Family Congregation of the saintly nun in Kerala state.

“It is huge global recognition for the Indian Church and its spirituality,” said Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

He said that “it was also huge consolation at a difficult time of hostility and bad press” for the Indian Church in recent months.

Sister Mariam Thresia (1876-1926) founded the Holy Family Congregation in the archdiocesan area of Trichur to continue her work among the poor and serving the sick and afflicted.

As Blessed Mariam Thresia is also known “as the other Mother Teresa because of her love for the poor, we see her as a great gift” to the Indian Church and “an inspiration to hundreds of people, Catholic nuns and priests working in the villages of India,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.

He said the saintly nun “is truly the compassionate face of the Indian Church” and honoring her helps people see the merits of the Catholic mission amid an anti-Christian atmosphere prevailing in India since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

The date of her canonization and its details are still to be decided but the congregation’s nuns hope it will be held in the second half of this year, said Sister Udaya.

The miracle attributed to the nun involved the cure of a prematurely born baby boy on April 7, 2009, after doctors said they were helpless to save the child.

The child’s grandmother, a devotee of Blessed Mariam Thresia, sought her intercession by placing a relic on the chest of the boy with the help of a nurse. Within 30 minutes, the nurse reported an unexpected improvement, Sister Udaya told ucaenws.com.

In 2012, the miracle was reported to Rome, 12 years after the venerable nun was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000.

The Holy Family Congregation has 1,970 nuns in 248 houses in nine countries.

“Our sisters continue the charism of the founder — the family apostolate. They mainly visit homes and help the education of girls and care for the sick,” Sister Udaya said.

Blessed Mariam Thresia will become the seventh Indian saint including Portuguese-born Franciscan Brother Gonsalo Garcia (1556-97), canonized in 1862, as the first one.

The first Indian saint in modern history was St. Alphonsa, canonized in 2008, a native of Kerala state. Kerala-born Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia were canonized in 2014. Goa-born Father Joseph Vaz, a missionary in Sri Lanka, was made a saint in 2015, while Mother Teresa was canonized in 2016.

Pope Francis also recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-90), a cardinal, theologian and founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England, clearing his path to canonization.

Source: UCAN

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