Disrobe priests guilty of sexual abuse of women: Catholic lawyer

The lawyer said wrong signals were sent out by Bishop of Ooty when he re-instated a priest convicted for abuse in the US.

New Delhi (UCAN): 

The ‘zero tolerance on sexual abuse’ policy adopted by the Catholic Church in India only addresses the issue of sexual abuse of children and not of women, which is far more prevalent in India, writes women’s rights lawyer Flavia Agnes in The Asian Age. 
Despite her anxiety that writing on this issue may be cited out of context at a time when churches and priests are being attacked, she says “the extreme vulnerability of the victims, and the attitude of the Church hierarchy of sweeping it under the carpet, compels me to write.”
Agnes explained that usually the victims suffer from multiple levels of vulnerabilities, including poverty, physical ailments, family problems and even depression. Most are deeply entrenched in their religious beliefs and take the concerned priest as their spiritual guide. 
“It takes a long time for the victims to comprehend that what they have been subjected to is sexual abuse, and it is even more difficult for them to report. But worse, even when it is reported, it is usually swept under the carpet,” she writes.
The noted lawyer added that the usual strategy is to keep the issue under wraps, transfer the concerned priest, and “counsel” the victim into believing that it was all her fault and thus secure her silence. She cited as example an abuse case she dealt with recently, involving two orphan sisters. 
But as more such cases crawl out of the woodwork, it will embarrass the Church if stringent action is not taken in keeping with its policy of “zero tolerance”, she warns. 
“This must include disrobing the errant priest of his ministerial duties and also lodging a police complaint as per the mandate of the criminal statute. If such strong signals are not sent out, the congregation will not get the message and will not know how to respond when such cases come to light,” she writes.
The lawyer said wrong signals were sent out by Bishop of Ooty when he re-instated a priest convicted for abuse in the US.
Agnes said that a group of Christian women in Mumbai and Pune — after working laboriously for two to three years — had drafted a policy. “But unfortunately the same is still languishing for the past three years with the concerned officials at the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the highest body with the power to approve it.” She added that Cardinal Oswald Gracias has recently agreed to implement it at least in the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Source: Asian Age

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *