India cardinal mounts strong defense of ‘zero tolerance’ on abuse


April 13, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, a member of Pope Francis’s council of cardinals which advises him on Vatican reform and one of four figures tapped to organize a recent summit on the fight against clerical sexual abuse, says Catholic parents have the right to know the Church is genuinely committed to “zero tolerance.”

The comment takes on special significance in the wake of the Feb. 21-24 summit, where reservations about “zero tolerance” were heard from senior churchmen from the developing world, and where the pope himself didn’t use the phrase.

Some observers detected a creeping redefinition of “zero tolerance” away from what it’s come to mean in the United States and certain other parts of the world, which is near-certain expulsion from the priesthood for abusing a minor, to permanent removal from ministry but not necessarily the priesthood.

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