Mumbai cardinal archbishop should ‘go to jail’ for his inaction on sex abuse – DNA

Oswald Gracias

DNASecretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, a Mumbai-based group that raises parishioners’ concerns, said many community members want Cardinal Gracias to resign over his inaction on sex abuse. – DNA Reporter

On the second day of an extraordinary summit at the Vatican on tackling child sex abuse by the clergy, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, told some 200 priests from around the world that “refusal by some bishops … to admit clerical paedophilia was an issue was unacceptable”.

Back home in Mumbai, a parishioner of his has moved court seeking that the Cardinal be accused in a 2015 case in which his son was allegedly sexually abused by a priest, Father Lawrence Johnson. The family claims the Cardinal failed to inform the police despite having been told about the crime three days after it took place.

“We have moved an application seeking charges against Cardinal Gracias under section 21 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), which makes failure to inform the police a punishable offence,” said Charmaine Boccaro, the lawyer representing the family.

“We want the Cardinal to go to jail,” said the victim’s mother. “He should’ve acted against the priest when we told him about the incident that took place on November 27, 2015. We first complained to a senior church official in Dadar, but to no avail. We kept asking for the Cardinal’s time but got a brief appointment only on November 30.”

“We want him to be arrested because, in a way, he suppressed the matter. He did not tell the police. And instead of dealing with the situation, he went to Rome,” the victim’s mother said.

“A day after the incident, we took our boy to a private doctor who refused to touch him, saying it was a police case,” the mother said.

On Friday, the Cardinal, in Vatican City for the landmark summit called by Pope Francis which started Thursday, responded to fresh news reports on the 2015 abuse case. According to the reply, the Cardinal had met with the family on November 30 and the same day, a bishop was asked to look into the matter while the accused priest, Fr Johnson, was asked not to attend the morning mass.

It further stated that the Church tried to offer help but the family declined it. “On many occasions, the Church tried to reach out to the family and the victim, but they refused to meet the Cardinal,” it stated.

This did not cut ice with a community in the throes of the biggest crisis facing the modern Church. “Why should we take his help now? He should have helped when we approached him,” said the mother.

Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, a city-based group that raises parishioners’ concerns, said many community members want the Cardinal to resign over his inaction.

Lawrence JohnsonThe Cardinal did not respond to calls for his removal or for charges to be pressed against him. His spokesperson, Nigel Barrett, said, “We have not heard of any such application. If one is filed, then we will deal with it in the appropriate legal forum.”

Church Scandal

Kin allege Cardinal Gracias didn’t tell police about a Nov 2015 case when a priest, Fr Lawrence Johnson, allegedly abused a boy; Johnson is booked under POCSO and IPC sec 377. He is in jail; next hearing in the case is on March 6. – DNA, 23 February 2019

Paedophile priest church window.