New Delhi: Catholic priest Father Lawrence Johnson, who was sentenced to life on the charge of sexual offence against a minor boy will now face actions from the Vatican.
Indian Cardinal, Oswald Gracias, has reportedly recommended the Vatican to resume 'canonical procedures'
against the cleric.
Lawrence Johnson, 55, a cleric of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai), was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court dealing with sexual offences against children on Dec 29, 2021. The priest was also charged with violating several sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Gracias, who is also the archbishop of Bombay, in a statement, said that “As the case has been concluded in the courts, I am recommending to the Roman Offices that the canonical proceedings which were suspended due to the ongoing hearings be now resumed.”
Johnson was arrested on Dec 2, 2015, and charged with having engaged in “sexual activities against the order of nature” with a boy. The victim was 13 years old when the incident took place.
It was the first publicly reported case of clergy sex abuse since the church in India in effect in November 2015. The boy's parents had also complained against cardinal Gracias and two other bishops for trying to cover up the case.
The boy's mother also had said that Gracias later behaved as if nothing had happened. The cover-up case also came to court in Mumbai in 2019. The office of Cardinal Gracias claimed that the church had acted and the priest in question was immediately
"…I continue to pray for the victim and the family. I understand their pain, anguish and anger. I ask pardon that a representative of the Church, appointed to be in charge of the community, was responsible for this,” he said.
It may be mentioned that the Indian bishops at their biennial gathering held in Bengaluru in February 2019 had resolved to follow 'zero tolerance' for any act of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.