Ex-high court judge sends legal notice seeking removal of Indian bishop

Ex-high court judge sends legal notice seeking removal of Indian bishop

A man wearing protective mask prays inside a church in Kolkata, India, June 1, 2020. (Credit: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters via CNS.)

A retired Catholic high court judge has sent a legal notice to church authorities seeking the removal of a bishop, accusing him of crimes such as murder, corruption and moral turpitude, among others.

NEW DELHI — A retired Catholic high court judge has sent a legal notice to church authorities seeking the removal of a bishop, accusing him of crimes such as murder, corruption and moral turpitude, among others.

Ucanews.com reported that former Justice Michael F. Saldanha alleged that Bishop Kannikadass William Antony of Mysore, India, was responsible for the deaths of four priests, two of whom were suspected to have been murdered.

The legal notice, a copy of which was released to media, was sent to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, and Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. Mysore is a suffragan diocese of Bangalore.

Antony has been facing accusations of sexual misconduct and financial misappropriation from his own priests. He has denied the allegations as “absolutely baseless” and “an attempt to tarnish my image.”

The 55-year-old bishop told ucanews.com June 9 that the allegations are the handiwork of a group of priests who oppose his administrative reforms in the diocese.

He said he had not received the notice but heard about it from social media.

The notice asked the bishop to resign or face legal action. It also erroneously appealed to Gracias to remove Antony from his office. The power to appoint, transfer or remove a bishop of the Latin rite is vested with the Vatican; cardinals or bishops’ conferences have no authority to do that.

Saldanha said he had 17 written complaints with substantiating evidence that had been given to church authorities, but no action had been taken against the bishop.

The notice also accused the bishop of “fathering at least six illegitimate children” and spending millions on mistresses, among other charges.

Antony said he has been facing such allegations for more than a year, but if Saldanha “wanted, I could have personally met him and clarified his doubts. But now he has targeted me based on hearsay.”

Father Lesli Moras, the diocesan public relations officer, said that when a former high court judge makes such allegations, “it carries weight and, therefore, he should have checked the facts before going public.”

Moras said the allegations were “absolutely absurd” and the diocese would respond legally if it had to.

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