MUMBAI, India – A diocese in India has removed a priest from office after he “mishandled” an elderly couple in his parish.

The Diocese of Mangalore took the action against Father Nelson Olivera following a viral video showing him dragging an old man near the car and taking him towards a house. When the old man’s wife was trying to stop the priest from dragging the old man, the priest was seen kicking the old woman.

Mangalore is a major industrial port city in the Indian state of Karnataka and on the west coast of India.

Father Nelson Olivera. (Credit: Diocese of Mangalore.)
Father Nelson Olivera. (Credit: Diocese of Mangalore.)

The Hindu population is 79 percent and Muslims make up just over 17 percent. However, the Catholic population is over 17 percent, well over the national rate of 2.3 percent. The incident took place at Christ the King Church in Manela, a nearby village.

Fathers JB Saldanha and Roy Castelino of the diocese jointly issued a press statement mentioning the removal of the priest on March 2.

In the statement, it is mentioned that the Diocese of Mangalore is “deeply saddened” by the incident that took place within the boundaries of Christ the King Parish in Manela, a village in the area.

“We are sincerely sorry for what happened on February 29, 2024, hurting those involved and the people at large,” the statement said.

“As the matter falls under the purview of the Law and Order of the country, the Diocese will fully cooperate with the law-enforcing authorities. Apart from the enquiry initiated by the Government departments, the Diocese will also initiate a canonical enquiry to establish the truth of the facts to take an adequate course of action in a just and fair manner,” it continued.

The priest had visited the house of the 79-year-old man for a house blessing. At that time, the priest was reportedly very rude and said that the couple was not donating funds to the church and used foul language. The priest also caught hold of the old man’s shirt collar and dragged him to some distance to a nearby house. The incident was recorded on a CCTV camera.

According to the CCTV footage, the old man’s wife was trying to stop the priest from dragging her husband, when he kicked the old woman.

The case has been registered to the local police, who are investigating the incident.

A catholic priest from the Diocese of Mangalore told Crux said Olivera is a priest of “pastoral zeal” but was acting in a manner “unbecoming a Catholic priest.”

However, he said the old man “had issues even with the previous clergy of the parish”, and despite this Olivera decided to pay a pastoral visit to the couple.

“It must be said that Father Nelson spontaneously reacted to the provocation by this gentleman, it was an aberration of pastoral prudence on his part,” the priest said.