Jesuits in India say Hindu zealots behind sex-abuse charges
A Jesuit priest has been arrested on sodomy charges in India's troubled Orissa state, but Church leaders say the charges are "concocted as part of a conspiracy to malign the Christian community" in a region where religious conflicts have been commonplace.
Fr Clement Kujur was taken into custody and charged with abusing a 17-year-old boy who worked at the Centre for Development Research and Training in Baripada. The Centre's director, Fr E. Abraham, insists that the charges were brought by Hindu fundamentalists.
"Since sexual abuse cases are getting lots of media attention, they are resorting to this," he claimed.
Fr Abraham reported that the teenage boy who brought the charges "was forced the make the complaint against the priest by other staff, prompted by Hindu fundamentalists."
Fr Kujur was arrested on Saturday night when he approached police to report an accident.
Instead of registering the priest's complaint about that accident - which local Jesuits now believe was intentionally staged - the police put Fr Kujur under arrest. He remains in prison, with his Jesuit colleagues seeking to free him on bail.
The Orissa state has witnessed serious anti-Christian violence in recent months, including the killing of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two sons and the murder of Fr Arul Das in 1999. Since then, there have been numerous incidents of harassment against Christians by Hindu fundamentalists.
Catholic World News
Indian bishop urges religious to face persecution with joy (11/7/03)
17 Men Charged in Murder of India Missionary (Christianity Today)
India's diversity, poverty set Jesuit course (National Catholic Reporter 1/11/02)
7 Aug 2003