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Abuse charge in Teresa home

New Delhi, Aug. 16: At a Gurgaon orphanage founded by Mother Teresa, children are tortured by monks and sexually abused by older inmates, the Vatican has been told.

Italian neurologist Dr Franco, who worked as a volunteer at the home, has attached photographs that show the alleged abuse with his letter to the Pope’s office and the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi, the Vatican’s embassy.

The orphanage, Deepashram, is managed by the Missionaries of Charity’s male wing, Brothers Contemplative. It is home to over 75 mentally challenged orphans of various ages from across India.

“Teenage inmates of the ashram are put into hardship by the friars (and) the elder (children) in the ashram are also involved in sexual activities with (younger) children, who are helpless in retaliating,” Dr Franco’s complaint says.

“This fact was known to Father Damien, the in-charge of the ashram.”

Dr Franco, who is now in Hardwar, also alleges that the ashram has been misusing money collected in the name of the children. Though the complaint was sent more than a month ago, the embassy has been silent on the matter.

Brother Tony, currently managing the ashram as Father Damien is away in Italy, told The Telegraph: “We have tied the hands of some mentally retarded children who refuse to wear clothes. And there are inmates with (a) criminal bent; at times they may have to be corrected. It is humanly impossible for us to take care of them all the time. We can’t do it 24 hours.”

He said Dr Franco had been “forbidden” to return to the ashram after he gave wrong medicines to the children.

Asked about the allegations of sexual abuse, Brother Tony said: “We separate the bigger and smaller children. During the day, we keep a watch on them. But during the night, we don’t know if there is something. Also, most of the children are not normal; they may see something and say something else.”

Dr Franco alleges the children are given neither nutritious food nor good clothes. They were often given wrong medicines. He also protested against medicines prescribed by another Italian physician, Dr Gloria.

Ashram officials alleged medicines given by Dr Franco caused some of the children to turn weak and start shivering. One even had to be taken to hospital.

When told about the complaint to the Vatican secretariat, Brother Tony said: “The Vatican can’t interfere. Church authorities don’t simply jump in if someone writes about it.”

Two weeks ago, a documentary shown on British TV made similar charges against a home run by the Missionaries of Charity in Nimtala, Calcutta.

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