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MYSORE, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - The concubine of a rogue prelate has publicly assaulted a whistleblower priest for reporting the scandal-plagued bishop to the Vatican.
A mob of 30–40 locals led by Ms. Sunitha H. — the fifth mistress of Mysore Bp. K.A. William — accosted Fr. Ronald Danthi and abused him, beat him up, tore his shirt and attempted to strip him naked, Church Militant has learned.
On Thursday morning, the priest was assaulted twice: first, outside Prashant Nilaya (the diocesan home for retired clergy) and later in the compound of Sanmaargi, the new Bishop's House in Bannimantap, Mysore.
Church Militant spoke to Fr. Danthi and other priests of the diocese to confirm the details of the violence unleashed against the priest. A video of the assault has gone viral on Catholic WhatsApp groups in south India. Several priests said the attack was preplanned.
Danthi fell out with William when he opposed the prelate's plan to sell a coffee, pepper and fruit plantation belonging to the diocese. The prime property, earlier managed by Danthi and other priests, is worth 1.3 billion rupees, or approximately $15.7 million.
As punishment, William stripped Danthi of pastoral responsibilities and banished him to a clergy home for retired priests.
Danthi is one of the 37 priests who petitioned Pope Francis on July 20, 2019, with photographs and other evidence of William's mistresses, children, multiple bank accounts, kidnapping, assault and embezzlement.
The clergy demanded the bishop's dismissal on the grounds that he continued to have relations with his mistress and had fathered at least two children from five illicit affairs.
Danthi said that Sunitha and her accomplices arrived at the clergy retirement home at around 9:50 a.m. and forced him to come outside the gate of the complex before swearing at him, slapping him, hitting him on the head and chest and using a slipper to strike him.
The act of using footwear to hit someone is considered to be particularly humiliating in an Indian context.
The mob forced the priest into an auto-rickshaw despite his pleas that he would travel to the bishop's house or to the police station in his own vehicle.
The priest was taken to the new Bishop's House, a palatial complex built by Bp. William, and assaulted again in the presence of other clergy and members of the bishop's staff. None of the clergy in the bishop's office or the administrative staff present came to Danthi's aid.
"They snatched my mobile phone and removed the SIM card," the priest told Church Militant. The assailants threatened to attack all 37 priests who had signed the confidential memo to Pope Francis, specifically naming Fr. Gnan Prakash, Fr. Rohan Arulappa, Fr. Arokiaswamy and Fr. Anthappa.
"Only Fr. John Bosco, a good priest who has begun to suffer from a speech disorder over the last couple of years and is not in good health, came forward to intervene," an eyewitness confirmed to Church Militant.
During the scuffle, police arrived and escorted Danthi to NR Mohalla police station where the priest was kept in protective custody from approximately 11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Police also took the priest to the government hospital for emergency treatment.
Later in the evening, Sunitha told the circle inspector that she had assaulted Danthi because the priest had uploaded a meme of Bp. William with Sunitha and their son on his WhatsApp status — a crime under the Indian Penal Code because the son is 17 years old.
Danthi apologized but insisted it was not right for Sunitha to take the law into her own hands. The priest also said his status was not public, and Sunitha could not have known about it unless pro-William clergy had sent her a screenshot to incite violence against him.
At around 8:30 p.m., the priest was released from custody after he signed a "compromise" agreement with Sunitha in the presence of the police inspector. An hour later, his mobile phone was returned to him.
Several Catholics had gathered at the police station and were waiting to assure him of their support, Danthi said. "On Tuesday, I am meeting Abp. Bernard Moras, the apostolic administrator," he added.
Last month, the Vatican asked William to go on leave, following a Church Militant exposé revealing a leaked phone call between Cdl. Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay, and William.
A letter signed by Abp. Felix Machado, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, announced that Bernard Moras, archbishop emeritus of Bangalore, would take over as apostolic administrator of the Mysore diocese on Jan. 7, 2023, at 6 p.m.
Earlier in February, William allegedly funded a massive protest to intimidate the Vatican into reinstating him. However, only 22–23 out of 130 priests from the diocese participated in the rally in support of the bishop, sources said.
In July 2022, Church Militant published the leaked phone conversation between Cdl. Oswald Gracias and Bp. William in which the cardinal, who is a consultor to Pope Francis, urged the Mysore prelate to take a DNA paternity test as directed by Rome.
In August, Church Militant obtained vehicle registration documents showing William had gifted Sunitha with a Maruti Suzuki Celerio — the most expensive hatchback in its class. The car is valued between 582,000 and 781,000 rupees.
While she was working as a staff member for the Organization for the Development of People in Mysore, Sunitha committed adultery with the bishop.
Sunitha's son with William was born after she and Anthony Raj submitted a divorce petition admitting that there was no "biological relationship" between the couple for the previous two and a half years, prominent lay leader Allan de Noronha (aka Chhotebhai) earlier wrote to apostolic nuncio Abp. Leopoldo Girelli.
"The needle of suspicion, therefore, points to William, whom the husband had then blamed for destroying his marriage," the lay leader stressed. Noronha noted that the bishop's mistress, who formerly lived in a "hutment," now lives in the "posh double-story corner-plot house" even though "she reportedly has no means of income."
In March 2021, a Vatican inquiry commission comprised of three bishops visited Mysore and received depositions from 120 individuals.
A 12-page dossier containing evidence of William's abuse of office, multiple immoral, criminal and nefarious activities, false statements, money transfers, dubious expenditures, soliciting foreign funds and receiving unaccounted money was submitted to the commission.
In July 2021, the commission revisited Mysore and submitted its report to India's papal nuncio, Abp. Leopoldo Girelli in September of that same year. The Vatican has not released the report despite repeated assurances that the report is forthcoming.
Clergy in Mysore told Church Militant that the Vatican's delays in disciplining errant bishops had led to a breakdown in the diocese of Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh following the scandal triggered by the former bishop, Prasad Gallela.
In a similar case of a bishop living in concubinage, priests and laity in Cuddapah demanded Gallela's resignation after revelations that the bishop had been cohabiting for years with his mistress and had a 20-year-old son with her.
Complainants accused the bishop of siphoning diocesan funds to support a luxurious life with his wife and son.
Catholics filed a criminal complaint in a trial court in Andhra Pradesh seeking action against the 56-year-old prelate after their efforts to get justice from the Vatican failed.
On Dec.10, 2018, Pope Francis accepted Gallela's resignation.
Church Militant contacted Moras by telephone and email but received no response.
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