The archdiocese of Mumbai responds to the BBC accusations on Card. Gracias
The article was published yesterday on the English agency. The Archbishop of Mumbai emerges as being negligent in reporting cases of child abuse by a priest. The official note instead publishes the names of all those involved in the story. The local Church has offered help to the victim's family several times, but has always been told that they did not need it.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Archdiocese of Mumbai released an official statement in response to an article published yesterday on the BBC. According to the article, Card. Oswald Gracias admitted that he had not managed to deal effectively and diligently with a case of sexual abuse of a child by a priest of the archdiocese. According to the article, the Cardinal was more interested in leaving for Rome, than offering help and support to the victim and advising the authorities. The archdiocese note gives a step by step reconstruction of these events dating back to 2015. Among other things, it makes public the names of the various protagonists, including that of the accused priest, while the BBC article did not mention any of them. This alone is evidence that the archdiocese has no interest in covering up the affair. The statement also underlines that "many attempts have been made to reach out to the victim's family, but they have refused any help".
Here is the full text of the official response of the archdiocese of Mumbai to the BBC report on the case of Fr. Johnson.
In the case of Fr. Johnson, when a family friend of the victim’s family phoned the Cardinal’s Secretary on November 30, 2015 afternoon and requested for an appointment with the Cardinal, it was immediately granted. The Cardinal met the victim, the parents of the victim and the family friend, who alleged that Fr. 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 Fr. Johnson and informed him of the allegations made against him, and although Fr. 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. Fr. 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.
Immediately, after speaking to Fr. Johnson, the Cardinal phoned up Bishop John Rodrigues and asked him to keep in touch with the family and to start an inquiry. He then left for Rome. Early next morning, as soon as he reached Rome, the Cardinal phoned up Bishop John to inquire with him regarding the case and about informing 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 counsellor 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 counsellor.
Medical assistance is always given by the Archdiocese to the needy parishioners - in fact, a Corpus Fund has been specifically started by the Archdiocese for this purpose. As regards the victim, Fr. Lancy Pinto, the then Dean of Kurla deanery, had spoken to victim’s father, over the phone and specifically told him that if the family needed any help they could straightaway approach the Archbishop’s House. He also visited the victim’s home along with an animator from the parish and met the father of the victim (the mother and the children had gone to visit their relatives). Even on that occasion Fr. Lancy asked the victim’s father if in any way they could be of help to him or the child, but he was told that there was no need. Fr. 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 (Fr. Lancy). The victim’s father thanked Fr. Lancy and told him that, at present, they did not need any help.
Many other attempts were made to reach out to the victim but the family declined any help. Subsequently, the Cardinal 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.