Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, expressed “distress” over claims on social media that he covered up alleged crimes committed by another Catholic bishop.
In a video posted on YouTube on Sunday, August 7, Cardinal Gracias said he was “very distressed” when he saw video and messages on social media accusing him of covering up for Bishop K. A. William of Mysore.
Bishop William has been accused of having lovers, of fathering children, and of killing four priests who exposed the alleged offenses.
A Vatican commission composed of three bishops began an investigation in February 2021 after a group of local priests wrote a letter to Pope Francis in 2019.
Cardinal Gracias said the accusations of a cover up were based on a conversation he had with Bishop William two years ago.
“In the interest of the truth and for the good of the Church, I am communicating with you directly,” he said.
In the taped conversation, the cardinal tried to convince the bishop to undergo a paternity test at St John’s Catholic Hospital to prove his innocence.
Cardinal Gracias said an edited version of the taped conversation “has been mischievously edited to give the impression that there was collusion” between him and the bishop for a “cover up.”
“I categorically, emphatically and totally deny this in the interest of the truth and for the good of the Church,” the cardinal said in his video on Sunday.
The cardinal admitted that he told the bishop that “it would be advisable for him to do a paternity test” because of the “rumors” that have been going around, and these were “not good for the Church.”
He said he told the bishop that “the best way to end the controversy was [the paternity] test.”
Cardinal Gracias said he only wanted to persuade Bishop William to take the test “at a trusted, reputed and above-board institution,” particularly the St. John’s Hospital in India.
The Association of Concerned Catholics, an anti-corruption group, had opposed that the test be taken in a Catholic hospital because of possible manipulation of the result.
Cardinal Gracias, however, said he was only suggesting St John’s Hospital because of its credibility and “to allay Bishop William’s fears of publicity and manipulation.”
A report on the news site Church Militant, accused the Catholic Church in India of trying to cover up the case against Bishop William.
The report quoted retired Bombay High Court Justice Michael Francis Saldanha saying that the Catholic Church “has covered up for William for six years.”
It added that Saldanha has charged Cardinal Gracias of “criminal conspiracy” for attempting “to procure a fabricated and false” paternity test certificate for “illegal purposes.”