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Missionaries of Charity Child-Trafficking cases: From Sri Lanka to India

The shocking confession of Sister Conselia of the Missionaries of Charity to having sold three babies for money and giving away of the fourth baby for free during interrogations by the Jharkhand Police has put the Catholic Church of India into a tight spot for defending the crime and crying wolf over deliberate ‘victimisation’.

The Jharkhand Police had taken into custody Sister Conselia, an employee Anima Indwar and a guard involved in the child-trafficking scandal into custody. During the questioning, Sister Conselia and Anima Indwar confessed to the crime of selling the babies for money.

The Bishop of Ranchi Theodore Mascarenhas speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church to NDTV stated, “The nun has told their lawyer that she was made to sign under force. She was pressurized. The sisters are absolutely innocent. I am appealing to all, allow them to do their work in peace. He further went to term it as a systemic maligning. “The First Information Report seems to have accused the Sister of being responsible for baby sale. I want to make it absolutely clear that a whole organisation cannot be maligned for one or two people. The police are treating the whole of Mother Teresa’s organisation as a criminal gang,” he further stated.

While Jharkhand Police continues with its probe in the Ranchi case and with the likelihood of the Centre instituting a nation-wide probe into the Catholic Church’s canonised Saint Mother Theresa’s institution – Missionaries of Charity, it must be highlighted to the GoaChronicle.com readers that this Ranchi child trafficking scandal is not the first time that the Missionaries of Charity have been accused of such a crime. In 2011, Missionaries of Charity were accused of child-trafficking in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan media in 2011 reported that Sister Mary Eliza, from the Missionaries of Charity – Prem Nivesa – was imprisoned after being sentenced by a judge of illegal trafficking in children. She was the first nun of Missionaries of Charity to be arrested since the congregation was formed. After three-days she was granted bail. Following that, a court in Sri Lanka has issued a ban on ‘Prem Nivasa’ – Missionaries of Charity convent, Moratuwa preventing it giving children to foreigners for adoption.The Colombo Magistrate Court issued the ban on the request of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) of Sri Lanka. The NCPA told the court that there had been a large number of child adoptions to foreigners by the Prem Nivasa orphanage over the past five years which have to be investigated.

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka reacted similar to the Catholic Church in India. The Archdiocese of Colombo has categorically denied this; a church statement said: “We never involve in selling these precious lives of the children and never take money for our work.”

The church also accused the Sri Lankan media of trying to stoke public anger over the issue.

The problem staring the Catholic Church in India is that they have cried victim as insinuated by the statements of the Bishop of Ranchi but a similar child-trafficking racket had emerged in Sri Lanka too and the accused has confessed to the crime, raising serious questions to whether there is a child-trafficking racket in some of the centres. Interestingly the Sri Lanka child-trafficking case had an India angle, the accused Mother Superior Sister Mary Eliza was an Indian and worked in Sri Lanka on a transfer from India.

I wonder whether the confession will be termed as Lies…Lies as the Catholic Church of India tweeted recently to my questions on child-trafficking of the Missionaries of Charity.

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