Pope Francis’ call for fasting and prayer to atone for the sexual misdeeds of clergy has evoked angry responses from leading Catholic women in India who are demanding action to stem such crimes.
The Aug. 20 papal letter asked for forgiveness for clerical abuse a week after a U.S. court investigation reported that over 300 “predator priests” in the state of Pennsylvania had abused more than 1,000 children over several decades.
Pope Francis stated that fasting could drive a desire for justice through a commitment to truth and charity.
“Making the laity fast and pray is not the solution,” female theologian Kochurani Abraham told ucanews.com. “Clerical sexual infidelity should be punished and not hidden under the carpet.”
She said the church needs to make a distinction between sin and crime. “Sin is something that you can repent and be absolved of,” Abraham said. “But crime has to be punished.” The sooner the church realized this, the better, she added.
Police have been investigating Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar after a Catholic nun, who is the former superior of a diocesan congregation under the bishop, accused him of raping her four years ago and then sexually abusing her 13 more times during the following two years. “But we saw no action,” Kochurani said. “The letter was not even acknowledged.”