07/02/2019, 16.53
INDIA
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Bombay High Court stops action against Card Gracias

by Nirmala Carvalho

Charges of failing to act in a rape case involving a priest were laid against the archbishop and his two auxiliary bishops. The accused continue to offer full support to the victim and his family.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Bombay High Court has ordered the state police not to take any action against Card Oswald Gracias for his alleged failure to act in a rape case involving a minor.

Card Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has come under investigation, along with his auxiliary bishops, Mgr Dominic Savio Fernandes and Mgr John Rodrigues.

Through their lawyers, the three Indian Church leaders have called for the case to be dropped. “Cardinal Gracias has done whatever was in his power” for the victim, his Lawyer Ashok Mundargi told AsiaNews.

The abuse case dates back to November 2015. The Archdiocese issued an official statement to explain what happened, and defend itself against charges made in an article published last February by the BBC. The press release describes the events.

On 30 November, Card Gracias was informed that a priest, Fr Lawrence Johnson, had raped a child. That day he had to leave for Rome, but he still found time to meet the victim, the parents and a friend who told him the story.

Forced to take the plane due to previous commitments, he not only met the child, but also suspended the priest involved in the rape, and ordered Mgr Rodrigues to take over the management of the case.

Joaquim Reis, another lawyer representing the prelate, said that "Cardinal Oswald Gracias was very keen to help the boy and the family.” He “designated a priest who visited the victim’s home along with a counsellor from the parish and met the father of the victim”. When asked if the family required help, the victim’s father said “there was no need.”

The clergyman told the father that the family could turn to the Church at any time for medical help or counselling. “Subsequently, the cardinal tried on many occasions to reach out to the family and the victim, but they refused to meet” with him. “We pray for justice for the cardinals, the bishops and the victim.”

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