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Temperature Rising

And only going to get hotter.

August 11, 2022  0


Temperatures are rising in India, and we aren't talking about man-made climate change. For the corrupt Cdl. Oswald Gracias — extremely close to Pope Francis, in fact — they're beginning to boil. Earlier this week, following a series of reports by our Rome correspondent, Dr. Jules Gomes, where a secret phone recording was leaked to Church Militant showing His Eminence engaging in an attempt to control bad news about a bishop he's trying to cover for, one of the most respected judges on the planet, Michael Saldanha, issued a legal notice to the cardinal for libel.

The notice is in response to Gracias' video statement saying Church Militant "mischievously edited" the tape of the phone recording, which, of course, we did not. We cut it down for length, a standard media practice. In the judge's legal notice, he tells Gracias to step down — as in resign — before he brings irreparable harm to the Church.

The most salient part, which the Vatican will hone in on, is from paragraph six:

When the cardinal goes on record to use the word "mischievously" edited, he is inviting a libel action for damages, which could not be less than $100 million because he represents the Church, and the Church can easily afford to pay it, apart from a prosecution. As a person who knows the law and the facts, I need to caution the Church that this action has been invited and that it would be defenseless in any part of the world.

Now, for the record, this information has just come to us, and we are not experts at libel law in India, but we may very well become so. Various parts of India were already in an uproar over this case, and, now, the pressure is mounting daily. The focus of the two-year-old secret phone call was Bishop K.A. William and his purported string of children from at least five different mistresses. As calls mounted for him to take a paternity test, the Vatican had to step into the quagmire as well as Gracias, urging William to take the DNA test.

Both clerics are now in batten-down-the-hatches mode.

But here is the wider scandal: Gracias admits in the call that he will arrange for the test to happen at a Catholic hospital, which will give him total control over the fallout, media included. That is the part Gracias didn't want anyone to hear. Well, too late. So, of course, once Church Militant released the recording, Gracias was in a bind, having to go on record in a rare video appearance last weekend and accuse CM of "mischievously editing" the recording. That false claim is what escalated this to the point where Judge Saldanha issued his legal notice today.

In Indian law, Gracias must respond within a specified time frame, denying the allegations made against him, or it will be deemed that he has admitted guilt. So it will be interesting to see what he and his lawyers cook up. Just looking across the very broad landscape, we can say, with certainty, that Church Militant could certainly use $100 million — lots of expenses here.

As a result of all this, William is on self-imposed lockdown, not venturing outside of his compound, even canceling a Mass he was supposed to offer at a convent. In America, we call that "tick-tock" — meaning the walls are closing in and time is running out. It is the publicity from Church Militant that is bringing this to a head, and both clerics are now in batten-down-the-hatches mode.

If William doesn't resign (or is removed), then the scandal just keeps growing. If he does, then that will be an admission that he is guilty, regardless of how much wordsmithing the resignation letter would have. And if he resigns (again, because he's guilty), then all eyes turn to Gracias, who has covered for him for years now.

And to boil it down, remember what Gracias is actually covering up: out-of-wedlock children running around, whose father is a deadbeat dad. Who is paying the expenses for these children? Who is raising them and taking care of their spiritual needs? Are Church funds being used secretly to tend to their needs? If so, that's its own issue, especially after five mistresses. And, at this point, we can rightly ask, is it just five? If Church funds are not being used, then what is the disposition of the children?

This whole scandal has only served to increase scrutiny on how Gracias does business, but it is resurrecting other problem cases. Gracias not only covers up for heterosexual bishops, but he also covers up for, of course, homosexual priests who rape altar boys. All are welcome, after all, in the Church of tolerance and inclusion. And a side note here — this would be bad for any bishop, but this bishop is one of Pope Francis' closest confidants.

Last December, an Indian special court handed down a conviction against Fr. Lawrence Johnson, who had raped a 12-year-old altar boy at Christ the King, a parish in the suburbs of eastern Mumbai. Father Johnson's animalistic rape of the 12-year-old was so severe, that the boy had to receive medical treatment for profuse anal bleeding. Likewise, Johnson infected the boy with syphilis. When the family found out, they went straight to the priest, who, when confronted, fell to his knees and confessed everything, begging for forgiveness.

Nevertheless, armed with an admission of guilt and a direct meeting with the family, Gracias spent huge sums of money defending the child abuser and rapist. The legal fees were as high as 10 million Indian rupees (or $125,000) for one of Bombay's celebrity lawyers to defend the homopredator priest.

Taking a page from the playbook of American bishops, Gracias just kept transferring him.

As it turns out, Johnson was raping other boys at previous parishes, right under the cardinal's nose. Those parishes include Our Lady of Lourdes, Orlem; St. Anthony's Church, Malwani; St. Anthony's Church, Mankhurd; Our Lady of the Rosary, Goregaon; and Sacred Heart Church, Vashi. Taking a page from the playbook of American bishops, Gracias just kept transferring him. 

Johnson used to be the driver for Bp. Allwyn D'Silva, one of Gracias' auxiliary bishops, and that is why he was protected, insiders say. It's all about who you know. Gracias let this nightmare legal process go on for six years. Huge legal bills, agony for the family — not the slightest bit of concern for the boy (or other boys), for that matter. So the renewed attention on his corruption and lack of empathy is more than warranted.

All of which makes his role as a close — very close — senior advisor to the pope extremely questionable, especially considering the starring role he had back during the sex abuse summit at the Vatican in 2019. Francis appointed him (along with pro-gay Blase Cupich) to head up the summit, called in the aftermath of the Theodore McCarrick revelations, as a kind of damage control, kabuki theater operation.

On top of libel and cruelty, you can add Gracias' outlandish hypocrisy, as he sat there in Rome, schooling the Church and the associated international press about how horrible sex abuse is. Damage control seems to be high up on the resumé of Cdl. Gracias, not just on the international stage but especially in India.

So the cardinal now has a couple of weeks or so to answer the legal notice. Meanwhile, we are just getting into the hottest part of the year. How's your air conditioner, Eminence?

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