Rome event challenges key Indian prelate’s record on sex abuse


November 28, 2018

By Claire Giangrave and Elise Harris

One of the organizers appointed by Pope Francis to plan a February 21-24 summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse of vulnerable people has been accused of covering up abuse in his own archdiocese in India by one of his former collaborators.

“My bishop is among the organizers, which left me perplexed,” said Indian-born Virginia Saldanha, a former director of the women’s commission of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, “What is he going to do? Come up with more cover-up ideas?”

Saldanha was referring to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, who also serves on Francis’s “C-9” council of cardinal advisors. Gracias was appointed to organize the long-awaited gathering of the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world and experts from various fields for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

With 20 years of experience within the Indian Church, Saldanha had a front-row seat to the rapid changes that led to the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandha for sexually abusing a religious sister 13 times.

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