On December 29, Fr Lawrence Johnson, former parish priest of Christ The King Church in Shivaji Nagar, was sentenced to life imprisonment for sodomising a 13-year-boy inside the church in 2015.
The Cardinal said in a statement on Friday, “I was very distressed to learn that Fr Lawrence Johnson was convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a minor. I deeply sympathise with the victim and the family. I ask pardon that a representative of the Church, appointed to be in charge of the community, was responsible for this.”
He addressed the victim’s mother’s accusations that the Church “abandoned and harassed” them during their struggle for justice. “Several invitations by my secretary to the victim’s parents to discuss assistance got no positive response. This invitation still stands. The Dean and the newly appointed parish priest also attempted to reach out to the family. It is relevant to record that only recently the victim was admitted to one of our Institutions at the intervention of our office.” Cardinal Gracias is head of the Catholic Church in India, and a frequent visitor to the Vatican. He said, “As the case has been concluded in courts, I am recommending to the Roman Offices that the canonical proceedings suspended due to the hearings be resumed.”