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Accused of abuse in Minnesota, priest still active in India

Catholic World News - April 06, 2010

An Indian priest who ministered in Minnesota in 2004 and 2005 will not fight extradition to the United States to face charges that he assaulted a teenage girl. Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul may also have violated the seal of Confession, according to case documentation gathered by BishopAccountability.org.

Following the allegation, Bishop Victor Balke of Crookston, who retired in 2007, referred the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and repeatedly pursued the matter with the Congregation. “I cannot in good conscience allow this matter to be passed over,” Bishop Balke wrote. “In my mind, that would be a shameful act of betrayal towards the women and girls in India to whom Fr. Jeyapaul could at present pose a serious risk.” The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked Father Jeyapaul’s bishop to monitor him.

The Associated Press reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recommended that Father Jeyapaul’s bishop take steps to remove him from the priesthood. Following a local ecclesiastical trial, Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of Ootacamund ordered the priest, who has insisted on his innocence, to spend a year in a monastery. The priest, who now works in the chancery office, said he would not fight efforts to extradite him to the United States.

While the Associated Press reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recommended that Father Jeyapaul be removed from the priesthood, the ABC News headline insinuated that Cardinal William Levada, the congregation’s prefect, was “protecting [a] fugitive priest,” and the CNN headline stated that the “Vatican covered up abuse.”

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