Mauritius’ Port Louis Diocese Speaks to Sexual Assault Allegations of Minor by Cleric

Bishop's House in the Diocese of Port-Louis Mauritius.
Credit: Diocese of Port-Louis

The leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Port Louis in Mauritius has, in a statement, reacted to the allegations of sexual assault of a minor by a Missionary Cleric, pledging to fully support the investigations.

“It is through the media that, today August 12, 2020, we learned of a statement made to the police about a minor girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Father Vincent Thareparambil, a priest from India,” the Vicar General of Port Louis Diocese, Fr. Jean Maurice Labor, says in a statement published on the diocese’s website.

In the Wednesday, August 12 statement, the Vicar General who also heads the Diocesan Committee on Sexual Abuse says the diocesan authorities had received a similar allegation involving the same Priest and another minor in August 2019 after the Priest had already returned to his native country.

“This missionary priest arrived in Mauritius in 2013 and returned to India in September 2018,” Fr. Jean says and adds, “The allegation received by the diocesan authorities therefore came more than a year after the priest's departure.”

Upon receiving the allegations last August, the Vicar General says, the Local Ordinary, Maurice Cardinal Piat instructed the Diocesan Committee responsible for the management of allegations of sexual assault on minors to conduct an internal investigation, in line with the diocesan protocol.

Following this investigation, Fr. Jean says in the August 12 statement, “the Bishop denounced the priest concerned to the Superior of his Congregation in India and at the same time informed the Vatican, which initiated a canonical trial – a procedure before an ecclesiastical tribunal – against the Priest.”

The trial is currently underway, and as required by the Diocesan protocol, the leadership of Port Louis also informed the family of their duty to report to the police, something the “the victim and her family did not want to do at the time,” the Vicar General says.

“We are deeply saddened by this violence against children and by the suffering that results for them, for their families and for the ecclesial community as a whole,” Fr. Jean says and adds, “We pledge to fully cooperate with the police and authorities necessary to bring the truth to light.” 

He further says, “We are wholeheartedly with the victim and all those who are suffering from this situation.”

The allegations come almost a month after the Vatican published a Vademecum offering a step-by-step guide to aid those charged with ascertaining the truth in cases of alleged abuse of minors by members of the Clergy.

Published on July 16 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vademecum is intended “primarily for Ordinaries and other personnel needing to apply the canonical norms governing cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clerics.”

The nine-chapter Vademecum covers, among others, four particular areas: protection of alleged victim and rights of the accused; careful verification of information; advice on how to handle communication relating to the allegations; and the collaboration between the Church and the State.

Regarding protection of the alleged victim, the manual directs that the ecclesiastical leadership ensures that the alleged victim is treated with “dignity and respect” and offered “welcome, attentive hearing and support, also through specific services, as well as spiritual, medical and psychological help, as required by the specific case.”

The accused is also granted a right of self-defence and that of presenting a petition to be “dispensed from all the obligations connected with the clerical state, including celibacy, and, concurrently, from any religious vows.”

The 30-page instruction manual is in response to a request made during the  Global Meeting of the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences on the Protection of Minors held in the Vatican in February 2019.

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