By Matters India Reporter
(Reissued after correcting the designation of James Kottoor)
New Delhi: Pope Francis should try his Chilean experiment with the bishops of India to cleanse the Church in the country.
Pope Francis should bring together Catholic bishops of India for “some soul searching” and take steps “to wipe out both sexual and financial corruption” plaguing the Church, says James Kottoor, editor of the Church Citizens’ Voice.
Pope Francis on May 15 met with 34 Chilean bishops in the Vatican to discuss a clergy sex abuse scandal that has plagued their national Church. On the first day of the three-day meeting, the Pope “handed each bishop the text with the subjects for meditation,” the Vatican said.
“We are feeling first of all pain and shame. Pain because unfortunately there are victims; there are people who suffered abuse and this deeply pains us,” Monsignor Fernando Ramos, secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, told a news conference on May 14. “And shame, because these abuses took place in ecclesiastical environments, precisely where these kinds of abuse should never happen,” added Monsignor Ramos, who is the auxiliary bishop of Santiago.
A week ago, the Vatican said the Pope wanted to “examine in depth the causes and consequences” of abuses of power and sexual abuse, as well as “the mechanisms that have in some cases led to cover-ups and serious neglect of the victims.”
Kottoor, a journalist with half-a-century of experience, says the Pope is not targeting just the episcopate of Chile but the whole People of God (faithful) who make up 90 percent of the Church in that country “who want to see justice being meted out through deeds, not words alone.”
Referring to the Indian situation, Kottoor says the Indian episcopate is among the least transparent and most silent in dealing with sexual abuse cases. The Catholic lay people in India, he observes, are becoming “more and more vocal in discussing such issues.”
He also notes that the India has the fourth largest bishops’ conference in the world with more than 200 prelates.
“In India such cases are seldom discussed in public either in the secular or religious press. But the one that has hit international headlines is the Ernakulam land-sale scandal with Cardinal Alencherry in the eye of the storm.”
Kottoor says the Indian Church for long has been beset with sexual abuse cases allegedly involving Catholic priests. One case pending since 1992 is the murder of Sister Abhaya, whose body was found in a convent well.
The editor says the lay people in India would wish Pope Francis would take a similar initiative with the Indian bishops, who are divided into three Rites – Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara.
“One can only hope and pray that such corrective steps would be taken, by bishops’ conferences around the world, and especially in India, in the nearest future for the good of the whole faithful who are left confused like sheep without enlightened shepherds to guide and lead,” Kottoor says.
He also says firm action should be taken to wipe out sexual and financial corruption in the Church in all countries in the world. “On this issue there can’t be two opinions,” he adds.