By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | August 17, 2022

Cardinal Oswald, Bishop William’s conversation

At 13:20 (in the leaked audio conversation with Bishop K A William) this is what Cardinal Oswald Gracias says: “Even Franco’s thing finally I had to intervene… we could have saved all the anguish and pain and suffering for him… if they had listened to me earlier… anyway that’s happened now, I can’t save Franco now…”

Opening Doorz approached a few faithful who are not afraid to speak out on what they make of the Cardinal’s support to Bishop Franco Mulakkal and the K A William audio conversation. Sr Noella de Souza (MCJ), and a few others who refuse to be fence-sitters voice their concerns. Most Catholics today prefer to talk about the goings-on in the Church at private parties, but when it comes to speaking out in the open, they shamelessly ask those who dare to speak out: “What would Jesus do?”

Here is the answer to that question. “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). 

This (I also believe) is what Jesus is saying to our morally bankrupt church leaders who are promoting counterfeit catholicism: “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work. (Titus: 1:15-16)

Sr Noella de Souza, MCJ
Missionaries of Christ Jesus

Somewhere in that same conversation, Cardinal Gracias mentions that he has spoken to Rome and they are in the know about what is happening. This brings to the fact that this game is a much bigger one, more than just one bishop and sister! I am told when Franco won the court case, he along with Bishop Agnelo went to see the Cardinal. Wonder if Agnelo and the Cardinal (or his representative) ever thought of visiting the ‘survivor sister’?


“We wrote to about 10 or more ‘dignitaries’ of the Church… and also Pope Francis. We got no reply from anyone—not even an acknowledgment.” 


What do you as a Nun, think of this?

It seems in more ways than one that sisters and laity (we belong to the same category) are not as equal as the hierarchy and clergy of the Church. Why should we? We are just the foot soldiers there for cheap and free work. It might seem correct to mention here that when the Church has to forge new frontiers, it is not the clergy or bishops there to set an example, but the unsung heroes most times are the Sisters. We do the work, and they are the CHURCH!

Is there no empathy for the Nun who has faced sexual abuse?

No. At the time, we wrote to about 10 or more ‘dignitaries’ of the Church asking them to work towards a just verdict and conclusion. There were the three cardinals, the metropolitan of Jalandhar, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and also Pope Francis. We got no reply from anyone—not even an acknowledgment. 


“As sisters in the country, we have to come together to raise our collective voices to claim our rightful place and dignity in the Church.”


Any other views?

I salute the ‘survivor sister’ for her courage and bravery in taking this case forward. She knew this was not going to be an easy deal, and despite everything said against her, she continues steadfastly and doggedly.

As sisters in the country, we have to come together to raise our collective voices to claim our rightful place and dignity in the Church. Till that is done we cannot and will not settle down at ease. Even though it is but a small percent of us working towards this, we have started with small ripples which are growing with each passing day, not only in the country but outside as well.

There are a few men who do support our views and help us out but by and large, it is a ‘battle’ of women against men.

Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala
Feminist theologian, writer, and activist

I have personally witnessed the “anguish and the pain and the suffering” of the rape survivor and seen her rise from the ashes with the consistent and sensitive accompaniment of a group of us women. It makes me sick to see the Cardinal’s display of brotherhood that puts a fellow bishop above all else.

How can we talk of Synodality, when the hierarchy is so obviously in place? 

Raynah Braganza Passanha
Head of the Diocesan Women’s Commission in Pune 

The released audio communication is painful, shameful, reprehensible, and disgraceful. However, shocking it is not. Over the years in our work with abused lay women and religious sisters, including the 20+ cases of sister suicides, we have been convinced of the collusion of priests and bishops to cover up evidence, concoct/tamper with medical reports, etc., always to protect the abuser!

Ossie [I do not refer to him as Cardinal anymore] is a hypocrite who by his actions has undermined the strides Pope Francis has been taking to address the cases of abuse in the Church. He headed the meeting in the Vatican on abuse within the Church, spoke out strongly against abusers and bishops and others who protected them, and earnestly claimed publicly that the victims must be heard, and supported in whatever way possible. Yet, in India, he is seen culpable of all offences he spoke out against!

‘Sisters In Solidarity’ which includes women from Satyashodak Mumbai, the Indian Christian Women’s Movement, and Indian Women Theologians Forum was formed in response to the Mullakal case on invitation by Streevani. We have been accompanying the ‘survivor sister’ and her companions providing them counselling, legal, and prayer support. We have attempted to get the bishops to at the very least listen to their side of the story, visit them or even speak to them on the phone. All we have received is platitudes and excuses.

Cardinal Oswald Bishop William
Cardinal Oswald, Bishop William… “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10).

In the case of Franco, right through, Ossie claimed he could do nothing as it was out of his jurisdiction. Yet, one of the first things Franco did was come to Mumbai soon after his acquittal to give thanks to Ossie for his support. 


“The laity choose to be fearful, concerned about their individual ‘salvation’ and out of this mindset of fear, they take the easy way out.”


As far as the laity are concerned, they are happy to stay in the limited ‘Pay, Pray, Obey’ groove or space that the leaders have allotted them. They have been content with their juvenile, infantile faith which has been limited to pre-confirmation, or the misinterpreted faith by the preachers of doom and gloom. They have failed to seek opportunities and take responsibility for updating their knowledge and understanding of the faith and so are unaware of their calling to be Christ in the world, to be prophetic leaders challenging structures in the Church and the world that are contrary to the heart and mind of Christ!

They choose instead to be fearful, concerned about their individual ‘salvation’ and out of this mindset of fear, they take the easy way out—obey the worldly masters who assume a divinity they disgrace, rather than living in fear of the ultimate divine they will answer to.

Shefalle Karanjikar
Catechist

The conversation shows his strong support for Franco and a disregard for the nuns who are fighting for justice. It would be nice for the Cardinal to study how POSH works, to know how to handle cases of sexual abuse and how the Committee deals with complaints of sexual abuse.

It would further be kind of him to explain how he had planned to save Franco; Bishop Angelo’s role in the whole matter and if he has even given the nuns a listening ear or visited them to hear their side of the story first-hand. The whole conversation seems to have sympathy towards William and Franco with no consideration for the trauma of those abused. The Fr. Lawrence Johnson case is an eye-opener on how sexual abuse was handled with ‘care’ and a huge amount of money only to save Lawrence. 


“The Fr. Lawrence Johnson case is an eye-opener on how sexual abuse was handled with ‘care’ and a huge amount of money only to save Lawrence.”


The call also speaks of how the Cardinal is well aware of clericalism and the unethical functioning of the clergy. Having had a first-hand experience myself of how the Cardinal has mishandled reports of clericalism, it comes as no surprise that at the end of the day the church will be ruled by the clergy with no sympathy to the laity. 

Josantony Joseph 
A married theologian deeply engaged in theological reflection and social justice issues

While I certainly believe that the institutional Church has not looked out for the nuns involved, but has taken the side of Bishop Franco Mulakkal (as is evident from the audio and also from the behaviour of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the Nuncio, etc., during the entire case) I am not sure that we can draw much out of this audio conversation except that Cardinal Oswald Gracias chose to believe and support Franco.  

According to me, that in itself is not a crime—it is a choice he has made, just as we all make choices as to whom we want to believe and support, whether it is the hierarchy, the Church Militant, or other groups supporting Pope Francis.

Audio Link display: Courtesy, Church Militant

Also Read: Cardinal Oswald: A disappointing witness to a watching world!

Also Read: Cardinal sin, the Church now has to be Militant

Also Read: “Forgiving and praying can turn all our enemies into good friends.”

3 Comments »

  1. The whole thing is so murky and disturbing….when the country is on fire…..humanity is struggling on so many counts, is this what we as followers of Jesus want to spend our energies on? Everything is not black and white…there are lots of grey areas….we can only hope that the voice of conscience will continue to disturb us at every step in every decision for the sake of Truth and Justice

  2. Oswald is a total Disgrace to our Community. With all the CRIMINAL sins of Rape, Sodomy, Murder et al he has deliberately ignored, I am convinced he has been planted in the Catholic Church to destroy it.

Leave a Reply