Why does the Catholic church appear to protect its clergy accused of murder and rape? For instance, in the case of Sister Abhaya’s murder, why does the Church go out of its way to defend, protect and rehabilitate the accused, ridiculing the due process of law? Palanivel Jeyapaul, who pleaded guilty of molestation in the US, was even reinstated and is back as a priest in India. Another priest, who is now convicted of rape in Kerala, was allowed to celebrate the mass on an auspicious day even after being accused of rape, dividing the parish down the middle. Are these attempts to put the laity down and turn them into second class citizens without any rights? Why does the church rehabilitate convicts like Fr Lazar of the Kollam diocese?
In a telephonic conversation with Anoo Bhuyan, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), declined to answer questions on specific cases, but talked about the church’s position on such matters. Excerpts: