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Assam bishops toughen stand against abusive clergy 

By Matters India Reporter

Nagaon: Immediate suspension or dismissal awaits Catholic clergymen and religious found involved in immoral and antisocial activities in Assam. This was decided on May 18 by the Catholic bishops of the northeastern Indian state.

Bishops from the state’s five Catholic dioceses also stated that the Church would take no action protect any priest or religious d convicted of crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a press release said.

The press release was issued at the end of a one-day meeting held at St Clement College, Nagaon, some 15 km northeast of Guwahati, Assam’s commercial capital.

Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati chaired the meeting attended by Bishops Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh, Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon, Michael Akasius of Tezpur and Paul Mattekatt of Diphu.

The prelates said the perpetrators of such crimes must know that their superiors would never protect them from civil and ecclesiastical sanctions.

The prelates also said they would follow the country’s laws and report such offences to the civil authorities. They also resolved to dismiss or suspend the offenders, besides taking legal proceedings.

The bishops categorically stated that the perpetrators must meet the demands for compensation from victims and dioceses will not be responsible for the crimes.

The bishops also expressed concern over the abuse of women and others in church institutions.

They stressed the need of maintaining transparency and accountability in the use of Church resources. All Church resources, they insisted, must be properly used and no religious or priest should misuse of them, the meeting resolved.

The meeting further resolved to promote skill-based and job-oriented higher education, including coaching for various state and national-level competitive examinations among the youths.

The meeting adopted a resolution to encourage local young people to go for various civil services including administrative, managerial and banking jobs.

The Catholic Church manages about 200 schools in the state, but few institutes of higher education. The bishops recently started a coaching institute – Guwahati Insight Academy – to train youngsters for various competitive exams. The bishops asserted that value-based education among future bureaucrats, administrators, managers, and others is a must for good governance.

The bishops also discussed networking with other Christian denominations.

“A great move by our bishops. Definitely, it’s a step in the right direction,” Allen Brooks, a prominent lay leader in Assam, told Matters India on May 19.

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One Response to Assam bishops toughen stand against abusive clergy

  1. chhotebhai

    This is good news, including the statement that the perpetrator of the crime will be responsible for the damages, if any. In the U.S.some dioceses had gone bankrupt or sold off community assets to pay compensation to the victims of clerical paedophilia. Recently in Kerala we know that a priest and some sisters were arrested for covering up the crime of a predator priest.

    Just last week a priest in Allahabad, Vice principal of a “prestigious” college allegedly assaulted a student with a cane resulting in possible loss of sight in one eye. The priest is now absconding. Is he being given shelter by the diocese? If so they are abetting a crime. The Catholic media has been silent on this case.

    Incidentally a couple of years ago the then bishop of this diocese was removed from episcopal office for ordaining a Protestant bishop. The matter would have remained under wraps had it not been for a full front page advertisement in the Hindustan Times that blew away the proverbial fig leaf. I hope the same mistake is not repeated.