Church must act to save its fair name

The Asian Age - - Edit -

Ja­land­har Bishop Franco Mu­lakkal has stepped down and the process of a fresh in­quiry can be­gin into the ac­cu­sa­tions by a nun that he had sex­u­ally as­saulted her on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. By drag­ging its feet over the is­sue for a long time since the brother of the nun com­plained about the charges of sex­ual shenani­gans swirling around the bishop, the Catholic Church had not dis­tin­guished it­self. Fur­ther, the con­gre­ga­tion of the Mis­sion­ar­ies of Je­sus shamed the vic­tim by re­leas­ing her pho­to­graph along with in­ter­nal probe find­ings, an un­heard- of trans­gres­sion that is also against the law of the land. Only af­ter the vic­tim ap­pealed to the Vat­i­can in an emo­tive let­ter through the Apos­tolic Nun­cio to In­dia was the Church seen to move to­wards ad­her­ing to the sim­ple prin­ci­ples of nat­u­ral jus­tice. The bishop should have stepped down un­til a proper in­quiry is held and he can get back his po­si­tion only if he can prove the in­no­cence that he has been pro­fess­ing un­abashedly through the me­dia.

As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of over 20 mil­lion Catholics, who form a size­able sec­tion of over one bil­lion Catholics in the world, the top of the In­dian Catholic Church hi­er­ar­chy had a duty to the pub­lic to have acted much quicker. By sur­ren­der­ing to con­spir­acy the­o­ries about re­venge pol­i­tics within the clergy, the Church had seemed to be com­plicit in be­lit­tling the se­ri­ous charges of sex­ual misconduct against the head of the Ja­land­har dio­cese, one of 174 in the coun­try, un­til the Nun­cio was called to Rome. The al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault re­late to a pe­riod be­tween 2014 and 2016 and it may be hard to gather the kind of cred­i­ble ev­i­dence to con­demn or ex­on­er­ate the ac­cused. But the Catholic Church, with its ac­cent on celibacy within the clergy, has a far greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­sti­tute probes into such se­ri­ous charges as have been brought by one brave nun pre­pared to stand up for her rights.

Pope Fran­cis, known for his re­formist zeal and pro­gres­sive out­look in touch with moder­nity, has been un­der se­vere pres­sure around the world with re­gard to charges of sex­ual abuse of chil­dren by the clergy. In fact, the ev­i­dence rounded up and find­ings re­leased by a grand jury in Penn­syl­va­nia in the US points to the abuse of more than 1,000 chil­dren by 301 preda­tor priests in just that one state. The sex­ual scan­dals of the Church may date back to sev­eral cen­turies but the fact re­mains that the cur­rent Pope has to act to pre­serve his Church rather than see his si­lence or in­ac­tion in­ter­preted as fur­ther self- preser­va­tion, to­wards which mil­lions of dol­lars have al­ready been paid in set­tle­ments of claims. The cross has stood as a moral com­pass for a lit­tle more than a cou­ple of thou­sand years and Pope Fran­cis is the one who has to be seen to save the Church from the depre­da­tions of a mi­nus­cule mi­nor­ity of priests who harm chil­dren or break their vows of celibacy. Un­bi­ased probes to es­tab­lish the truth would be a start, much as it will in the case of Bishop Mu­lakkal.

The Catholic Church, with its ac­cent on celibacy within the clergy, has a far greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­sti­tute probes into such se­ri­ous charges as have been brought by one brave nun

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