Rome Forces Rogue Bishop With 5 Mistresses To Quit

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 15, 2024   

Prelate who escaped punishment will be free to minister in his diocese

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MYSURU, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican has compelled a scandal-plagued prelate to resign 18 months after Church Militant revealed that the bishop had been urged to take a DNA test to disprove allegations of illegitimate paternity. 

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Bp. William with his alleged mistress and son

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India announced Saturday that Bp. Kannikadass Antony William had "stepped down for pastoral reasons given the distressing situation" in the diocese of Mysore. 

However, the statement signed by Abp. Felix Anthony Machado, secretary general of the episcopal conference of India, stressed that William's resignation "is not a disciplinary measure imposed upon Bishop William but a decision pro bono Ecclesia [for the good of the Church]." 

Machado explained that Pope Francis' ambassador in India noted the resignation, which was made public in Rome at noon on Saturday, is "for the good of the Church, in order to provide the diocese with a new bishop."

The CBCI statement clarified that William's status "is now that of 'bishop emeritus of Mysore,' which does not imply any canonical restrictions on his ministry." 

Bishop William was accused of cohabiting with five mistresses and fathering at least two children. In July 2022, Church Militant published a phone conversation between Bombay's cardinal-archbishop, Oswald Gracias, and William. 

In the leaked call, Gracias, a consultor to Pope Francis, tells William he will arrange for the DNA test to be conducted at a Catholic hospital "so we can control the media, control the doctors, control the publicity given to the whole thing."

You'll come out like a hero and a martyr.

"What I've told Rome, that if you really, if you come out like completely, we can then publicize, and you'll come out like a hero and a martyr," Gracias emphasizes in the call, telling William how "everybody will say you're a martyr who suffered so much unfairly" when the paternity test clears him.

A letter from Mysore priest Fr. Gnana Prakash to India's apostolic nuncio, Abp. Leopoldo Girelli, dated July 5, 2022, further accused William of murdering four priests who opposed him, rape, sodomy, kidnapping and embezzlement.

 
 
 
Cdl. Oswald Gracias' phone call with Bp. K.A. William
 

In conversations with Church Militant, several Indian Catholics expressed outrage that the Vatican had failed to impose disciplinary sanctions on William and that he was permitted to continue to minister within the troubled diocese. 

A source close to the investigating commission told Church Militant that the Vatican and the Indian hierarchy had arrived at a deal with William. 

He should also be defrocked.

"They have asked him to rein in his supporters and not create trouble in the diocese. In exchange, they will let him go free with no disciplinary sanctions," the source said. "Knowing how things work, he might even be offered a job in Rome."

A letter sent by Advocate Sunita Banis of the High Court of Bombay to Girelli noted that William continued to "resist any form of punitive measures" despite "clear evidence of wrongdoing."

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Abp. Leopoldo Girelli

Banis, a practicing Catholic, slammed the hierarchy for having "consistently disregarded" complaints against William, noting, "The defense of such a bishop poses a grave threat" to the Catholic community in the diocese and the nation.

The advocate said she had initiated measures to bring Mrs. Sahana S.N., to testify in a criminal court. In a video testimony published by Church Militant in August 2022, Sahana alleges that William kidnapped her after she refused his advances. 

Sahana and the bishop settled out of court for a sum of 120 million rupees (about $1.5 million), according to Justice Michael F. Saldanha, a practicing Catholic and a veteran judge of the Bombay and Karnataka high courts.

Melwyn Fernandes, secretary of the Association of Concerned Christians, said that "Catholics in India are overjoyed that justice is finally being served for those who suffered because of Bp. K. A. William and his associates."

Fernandes elaborated: 

It's been five years now, and we're starting to rebuild our hopes and trust in the Vatican. We sincerely hope he won't be allowed to take charge of any diocese in India or elsewhere, and there should be no protection given to him in any form. This is just the start of holding him accountable for the crimes he's committed, and we believe he must face a fair trial.

Allan de Noronha (aka Chhotebhai), convener of the Indian Catholic Forum, said that the Vatican has "finally accepted" the resignation after three years of struggle against the "criminal" Bp. William. "Satyameva jayate," (truth alone triumphs) he added, quoting India's national motto in Sanskrit.

We are also still insisting on the paternity test. 

"We are also still insisting on the paternity test. He should also be defrocked," Chhotebhai insisted.

Earlier on Wednesday, even before the Vatican announced William's resignation, the bishop's supporters organized noisy protests in Mysuru to demand that the prelate be reinstated. 

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Mysore clergy meet nuncio to complain against William

A three-bishop Vatican commission began examining evidence against William in February 2021, after 37 priests from Mysore diocese wrote to Pope Francis on July 20, 2019. They had demanded the bishop's resignation because he continued to have relations with his mistress and had fathered children from multiple illicit affairs.

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.

The Vatican's Dicastery for Evangelization finally suspended William in January 2023, asking him to take "a period of absence from the ministry."

Bishop William did not respond to several requests for comment. The prelate continues to deny all accusations and has maintained his innocence. 
 

 

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