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MUMBAI, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bombay's cardinal archbishop, Oswald Gracias, has issued a video statement falsely claiming that the recently leaked phone call between him and the scandal-plagued bishop of Mysore, K. A. William, was maliciously doctored.
"I realized that the tape of my conversation has been mischievously edited to give the impression that there was collusion between Bp. William and myself for a cover-up," Cdl. Oswald Gracias said in a YouTube video released on Vianney Sunday.
"I categorically, emphatically and totally deny this in the interest of the truth and for the good of the Church. I am communicating with you directly," the cardinal emphasized.
Bishop William has been the target of a Vatican investigation over accusations of orchestrating the murder of four of his diocesan priests and for allegations of rape, kidnapping, embezzling diocesan and trust funds, and fathering illegitimate children with multiple mistresses.
Gracias deftly avoided, in his video statement, any comment on the status of the pending investigation. Likewise, he did not explain why the Vatican had thus far failed to act against Bp. William, despite several priests from Mysore phoning him to say that their lives were in danger.
Church Militant has obtained evidence of these phone calls but is not revealing them, to protect the identity of the sources.
The cardinal, a key consultor to Pope Francis, deliberately avoided naming Church Militant specifically. However, the cardinal could have been referring to no other media outlet — because it was Church Militant alone that received the 15-minute leaked phone call, edited it for length and then published on July 22.
It is not clear why Cdl. Gracias avoided specifically mentioning Church Militant. In response to Gracias' allegations of "mischievous editing," the entire phone conversation is being published in this story.
In the video, the cardinal admits he "did have a conversation with Bp. William in August 2020" and "during that conversation, [he] urged Bp. William that it would be advisable for him to do a paternity test."
"I said so then two years back, and I still think so," Gracias added. "At no time did I say or suggest that we can control the outcome of the tests. This possibility, my dear people, never, ever even crossed my mind."
Gracias, however, presents a red herring in saying Church Militant suggested that he would try and control the "outcome" of the tests themselves. What CM was reporting from the relevant portion of the phone call was the cardinal's following assurance of Bp. William:
I was thinking [we] will go to St. John's College, so we can control the media, control the doctors, control the publicity given to the whole thing. And it's a credible organization, no? So, so, they don't get it out.
It is clear Gracias sought to control every aspect of this scandal — that, in fact, is the very purpose of the phone call between him and Bp. William.
Unedited recording of the full phone call between Cardinal Gracias and Bishop K. A. William
Even eminent judge Michael F. Saldanha told Church Militant he was "saddened by the pathetic reaction to the indisputable recording published by Church Militant — one of the world's most responsible channels where all facts are independently and forensically checked."
"I was a criminal lawyer of unblemished competence for 32 years and a judge for 16 years when I was listed among the world's 10 best judges," Saldanha said. "My hallmark was that I always double-checked facts myself. I harbored zero bias and got forensic confirmation before confirmation. Facts are sacred."
Saldanha, who retired from the Bombay and Karnataka high courts, elaborated:
Cardinal Gracias' explanation is sham and hollow. He acknowledges the phone call itself is authentic and that the finding of the Vatican, the nuncio and the cardinal himself is that the paternity test was absolutely essential to refute the adverse presumption and circumstantial evidence that seals his guilt.
Bishop William should have been suspended and dismissed. Why were they in collusion for two years and even now? What does he mean by "mischievous editing"? In this country, we are used to denials and politicians lying through their teeth. But for a prince of the Church to do it is unpardonable.
Saldanha wrote to India's apostolic nuncio, Abp. Leopoldo Girelli, on Monday, stating Bombay's cardinal archbishop, Oswald Gracias, is guilty of a "serious criminal offense, punishable with 10 years rigorous imprisonment."
The judge refers to the cardinal's attempt to arrange the DNA test at St. John's Medical College, a prestigious Catholic hospital in Bangalore, noting India's Supreme Court permits only the National Forensic Institute, Hyderabad, to legally conduct paternity tests.
"You have finally managed to get the cardinal out of the bunker," Martin D'Souza, a faithful Catholic and veteran journalist from Mumbai told Church Militant.
D'Souza, editor of Opening Doorz media, elaborated:
As a journalist with over 35 years' experience, I understand why any news media would clip parts to shorten it for the reader. This is standard practice, as anyone watching the news on TV or any video news editor will tell you.
There is a huge difference between edited and doctored. "Mischievous" editing entails altering the voice, adding something or falsifying an audio to misrepresent the original. Ironically, the cardinal could have published the unedited audio immediately after his YouTube broadcast but has asked interested parties to write to his media team for a copy.
Dominic Lobo, a member of the Association of Concerned Catholics who has been protesting daily since Church Militant broke the story, blasted Gracias for "employing a cheap trick designed to con the gullible."
"His response is to attack the format, i.e., the edited version of the phone call. What he doesn't do is address the substantive issues raised by the devastating Church Militant exposé, which has rocked the Catholic Church in India," Lobo observed.
"He is lying blatantly when he says he didn't intend to cover up the truth. If so, why does he repeatedly ask William if the 'line is safe' and if this is being kept confidential? Why has he not been transparent from the very beginning? And why has William still not taken a DNA test?" Lobo asked.
"I think the cardinal should speak the truth, because only the truth will set him free," D'Souza remarked.