An Indian Roller exclusive...
A Catholic diocese in a rural town of eastern India has set the stage for a safe haven for priests convicted of paedophilia and other sexual abuses. Gurmu, a town with a population of nearly 200,000, boasts the largest concentration of Catholics per square kilometre in the world and the town hall recently voted the creation of the retreat for convicted priests. Earlier this year, the diocese, whose religious views are protected by arcane, nineteenth-century laws, announced that it was extending the invitations to all Catholic priests convicted worldwide.
"We all need to do God's work without distractions," said Father Augustine Ekka, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Gurmu. "We are providing a place to retool and rediscover our missionary potential." Father Ekka, who has been to the Vatican twice on official invitation, said that the idea came to him after he met with the Pope Benedict XVI in June 2009. "The Pope has his hands full of convicted paedophiles," noted Ekka,"and I just couldn't bear to watch our fearless leader suffer."
The plan to reinstate convicted priests was recently voted into effect by the Town Hall Committee of Gurmu. "We welcome the international attention that this is going to bring to our town," said Lionel Barla, a local councilman. "Gurmu is the destination for everyone who deserves a second chance and these convicted priests do. There is a rumour that noted Irish priest, Bill Carney, will be one of first to accept our invitation...it is exciting."
Bill Carney, a convicted priest of the Dublin archdiocese, refused to comment on his forthcoming travel plans to India.