The Indian Women Theologians Forum (IWTF) has written to Pope Francis expressing deep concerns over the way the Church in their country handles sexual abuse cases.
Around 800 Catholics from around the world have endorsed the letter sent to the Pope Francis with copies to ecclesiastical leaders in India, says a November 20 press release from the forum.
The letter highlights the context and facts regarding the case of sexual abuse involving the bishop of Jalandhar. It also comments on the lack of response and the inappropriate handling of the case by the Church authorities in India.
As remedial measures, the letter requests the setting up of an impartial enquiry committee with at least 50 % women to study the allegations and taking adequate steps to support a fair trial in keeping with the Church policy of “zero tolerance of sexual abuse.”
It wants immediate implementation of the CBCI Guidelines, 2017 of the Church in India for addressing sexual abuse, in keeping with the civil laws applicable to grievance redressal mechanisms of the country.
The November 9 letter was endorsed by Catholics from 24 countries, with the United States topping the list, followed by Australia and Brazil.
The Indian signatories came from 15 states, including nearly 500 from Kerala, where the complainant and the accused of the Jalandhar case belong. The signatories included 71 priests from India, more than 50 women religious and 16 advocates.
“In keeping with the need to be transparent in our efforts this letter is also mailed to 250 representatives of the Catholic Church, including all the cardinals and bishops within India,” the press release says.