John Paul backed shielding of priest, ex-cardinal says

  • Sat Apr 17th, 2010 10:21pm
  • News

Associated Press

ROME — Spanish media are quoting a retired Vatican cardinal as saying the late Pope John Paul II backed his letter congratulating a French bishop for risking jail for shielding a priest convicted of raping minors.

Websites of La Verdad and other Spanish newspapers reported Saturday that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 80, told an audience at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, on Friday that he consulted with John Paul and showed him the letter.

He claimed the pontiff authorized him to send the letter to bishops worldwide.

The 2001 letter praised Bishop Pierre Pican, who received a three-month suspended prison sentence for concealing knowledge about the clergyman, the Rev. Rene Bissey, the media said.

The priest himself was sentenced to 18 years for sexually abusing 11 minors.

Separately, an Indian priest who pleaded no contest to assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Florida and was found to be working at a parish in Italy has given up his job there.

The Rev. Vijay Vhaskr Godugunuru was serving as deputy parish priest in Sarteano, a small town in Tuscany’s winemaking region.

The pastor, the Rev. Fabrizio Ilari, said Godugunuru was no longer on duty as of Thursday.

The bishops supervising Godugunuru, now 40, said they were aware of the sexual assault case but believed he was innocent. They maintained he had not admitted guilt.