Mysore bishop accused of sexual misconduct, murder

Cover image: Bishop of Mysuru K A William file photo (DH Photo)

 

Matters India

9 June 2020

(originally published in Sunday Mid-day and Deccan Herald dated 07 June 2020)

 

Note:  Another Frightening Franco Mulakkal at large in the midst of the People of God.  He has already tasted blood and is on the lookout for more in collaboration with the Bishops of CBCI.  No wonder for Bombay High Court Judge Justice Michael Saldanha has served a legal notice on murder, sexual misconduct and corruption on Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, in addition to Archbishop Machado of Bangalore and  the culprit in question Bishop (?) K.A. William! How come all the high-ups in the Indian Church Hierarchy whether it be Cardinal Alencherry (who told the Kerala High Court that he was answerable only to the Pope) and Franco Mulakkal, manage to skirt/escape the legal noose?  I think Justice Saldanha should be specially requisitioned by the Lay leaders of Kerala and India appear for the hapless nuns in the Franco Mulakkal case to bring it to its logical conclusion instead of allowing it dither indefinitely, adding to the nuns' agony. Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.

 

   

Bengaluru, June 8, 2020: Former Bombay High Court Judge Justice Micheal Saldanha has accused Bishop K A William of murder, sexual misconduct and corruption by “letting loose a virtual reign of terror” in his Mysore diocese.

 

On May 29, Justice Saldanha had sent a legal notice to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) President Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

 

He had also sent the legal notice to Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore and Bishop William. Justice Saldanha also accused Archbishop Machado of colluding and covering up murders allegedly committed by Bishop William, Mid Day reported.

 

Cardinal Gracias, who is also the Archbishop of Bombay, was also copied on the legal notice that read as, “Following the deaths of four priests – two murders, one hanging and one accident, the Bishop of Mysore has let loose a virtual reign of terror in the Diocese.”

 

Addressing the alleged corruption part of it, the notice stated, “He has used the underworld mafia and protection from the local police… it has already resulted in as much as 23 percent of the Catholic laity leaving the Church. For the last one year, this man has been asked to leave, but he defiantly carries on terrorizing.”

 

According to Justice Saldanha, Bishop Machado has ignored 17 written complaints “fully backed by evidence,” all of which have come from “men of credibility,” a majority of them being priests.

 

Justice Saldanha has also accused Bishop William of calling an urgent meeting on a 12-hour notice to pronounce a transfer order against 37 priests, who had complained to Rome about his alleged involvement in criminal offences, misappropriation of of funds and sexual misconduct.

 

The notice read, “and in three minutes, pronounced a transfer order, which can be defined as revenge transfers targeting the priests who had complained against him, and sending eminent scholars to remote villages where there is not even drinking water.”

 

Earlier several parishes had filed complaints to Pope Francis against Bishop William accusing him of practicing factionalism, favouritism, illegal parenthood, sexual liaisons and corruption.

 

Bishop William, along with Father Leslie Moras, was involved in the 2019 Mysore Church sex scandal when a woman, who worked in their church, had accused them of seeking sexual favours.

 

Speaking to Mid-day, Justice Saldanha said that he had spoken to all the 37 priests, who are the complainants and can vouch for their credibility.

 

“There has been unabated womanizing by this man and evidence has been produced. There are also instance of him defaulting on church money. Each time he had a problem with a woman, there were large payoffs.”

 

Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), who has been trying to highlight Bishop William’s alleged misbehaviour for a year, told Mid Day, “There are allegations of murders of priests being camouflaged as accidents. I call upon the Archbishop of Bangalore Peter Machado and CBCI President Cardinal Oswald Gracias to immediately suspend the Bishop of Mysore and to get the police to institute a high-level inquiry into the murders of innocent priests, as well as the transfers.”

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5 Responses

  1. Karen D' Souza says:

    Well said Isaac Gomes!!  We the laity should be in charge of all Finances of the church.  Also the laity must not contribute a dime towards donations until & unless every cent is accounted for.

    Jesus Christ must be aghast and ashamed about all the illegal goings on – misappropriation of funds, selling church land, rape & sex galore…

    To avoid any further hungama, Daddy William should do a DNA test to prove his innocence.

  2. Chhotebhai says:

     

    I congratulate Justice Saldanha for taking up this matter. The Indian Catholic Forum extends its full support to him.

     

    If 37 priests of the diocese have made serious allegations against this Bp William, if a person of the integrity and calibre of Justice Saldanha has taken up the matter in right earnest, and there is prima facie evidence of the unnatural death of four priests, and there is photographic evidence of the “wife” of the bishop and his alleged two children, then the CBCI and Apostolic Nuncio cannot remain mute spectators. A DNA test of the children must be conducted to determine their paternity. A proper due diligence audit of the diocesan accounts should also be undertaken.

     

    So far Bp Galela Prasad of Kadapa and Franco Mulakal of Jalandhar have been divested of their offices, but William’s case seems to put them in the shade. I have requested a team of three colleagues in Karnataka to investigate the matter so that appropriate steps may be taken, as we had done in the case of the other two bishops.

     

    If anybody has the contact details of Justice Saldanha I would be grateful if they could be communicate them to me.at noronha.kp@gmail.com or mobile number 9415130822.

     

    Thanks.
    chhotebhai
    Convenor, Indian Catholic Forum

  3. Virginia Saldanha says:

     

    As usual the Bishops and the Vatican have remained silent on this issue which a number of priests in Mysore have been struggling to raise for more than a year now.

     

    Deep gratitude to Justice Michael Saldanha for taking a personal interest in this case and taking action. It is also heartening to see many voices raised here. Lay people should become more proactive in addressing this issue.

  4. Isaac Gomes says:

     

    George Neduparambil has hit the bull’s eye in his recommendation to address Bishop William-like malaise.  Having been a banker for many years, he has recommended Financial Reform in our churches. My suggestion is take away finance from Bishops and Parish Priests and see the metamorphosis in their behaviour. All their glitz and glaze will evaporate! Both Diocesan  Finance Committes (DFCs) and Parish Finance Committees (PFCs) should have elected (not handpicked by Bishop and Parish Priests) Lay members who are well-conversant with accounts & finance. In DFC the Bishop/Archbishop should not be a member of the Committee. Similarly in PFCs, the Parish Priest should not be member. After all, their main job is to smell their sheep and feed them. Their financial needs will be decided by the Finance Committees as per Canon Law and law of the land.

    To ensure impartiality/ arrest defalcation, Bishops/Archbishops and Parish Priests, should not be signatories to bank accounts. These should be operated by the joint signatories picked out from members of respective Finance Committees. A resolution should be passed to that effect, one copy to be given to banks. All receipts and expenses should be accounted for by making vouchers and getting them regularly approved.  Payment Vouchers should be approved first before making any payments, other than extreme exigencies up to pre-defined limit say to Rs 2,000. 

    In this context it is pertinent to bring up the topic of Catholic Association of Bengal (CAoB). Established in 1911, this 109 year-old Lay Catholic Association was registered with Registrar of Societies, Government of West Bengal on 24th July 2008 by the then President (two-time immediate Past President of All-India Catholic Union – AICU) and Secretary-General (currently Treasurer of AICU). When in September 2018 the new office bearers were elected, they found after taking over office, no accounts and important correspondence files, including the Minutes, for the past financial years. Especially, no hard or soft copies of the accounts and any vouchers for 2015-2018 were handed over to them. Even the cheques and receipt books were handed over after repeated persistence. When Dairies were lodged with the police for these gross deliberate discrepancies, the outgoing Treasurer and her husband put up a brave front and her husband (erstwhile CAoB President-for-nine-years and two-term immediate Past President of AICU) had the cheek to write to the current President of CAoB that audits were done based on statements and missing vouchers were not a big deal – they can be RECONSTRUCTED! I would be happy to get a clarification from George Neduparambil who had a long stint as a banker whether this RECONSTRUCTION is permissible. Just imagine this suggestion came from him after he was Showcaused by the current President for his hand in another scam over and above financial matters!. It was revealed on an enquiry with the Registrar of Societies, that Catholic Association of Bengal was registered in another name as CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF BENGAL, KOLKATA! The enquiry was taken up when the original documents of CAoB's registration in 2008 were not traceable in CAoB office. It was also found that while Catholic Association of Bengal was registered with the Suffix KOLKATA, with the Income Tax authorities for IT returns and Eligibility for 80G Exemption, it was registered as CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF BENGAL! The PAN Card AAAAC6116C bears the name CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF BENGAL. No wonder the Returns for the last ten years were not filed with the Registrar of Societies, Government of West Bengal, due to this dual identity of the Association. By the way, in 2011 a gala programme was held by same erstwhile President-Secretary General combine, at St Xavier's College Auditorium to celebrate 100 years of CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF BENGAL!  

    The case in point brought up by George Neduparambil, a seasoned banker, was bring in financial transparency by streamlining finance committees and their accountability to the Laity, to put a stop to a repeat of the Mysore Bishop scandal of sex and murder. In the context of CAoB, the same financial and overall transparency were found missing by the new office. While they are still struggling to put the missing pieces together, the Archbishop of Calcutta is openly siding with the perpetrators of decade-old malpractice. He has written letters to the current President of CAoB (the first lady president in 109 year-old history of the Association) to WITHDRAW all police diaries and Show Cause / Suspension Notices, and patch up with the corrupt erstwhile office bearers. Therefore, the million dollar question for the Archbishop of Calcutta is "What is your interest in trying to bail out the miscreants who are on all your Core Committees?"
     

  5. George Neduparambil says:

    Catholic Church styles itself as "Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. How much of Holiness is left in it is anybody's guess. Blind believers are totally responsible for whatever is happening to the church. The bishops run their affairs as kings answerable to no one even to themselves.

    Church Finance must get into the hands of a committee comprised of both laity, nuns and priests. Bishops should not have exclusive domain on church funds.

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