New Delhi/Kochi, July 27 (IANS) Union Minister K.J. Alphons on Friday said that the recommendation of abolishing the practice of confession in churches is that of the National Commission of Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma and not that of the government, while the Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram, M.Susaipakiam termed the idea “outrageous” and “prejudiced”.
Alphons, a Catholic himself, told the media in Delhi, Friday that the Union government has nothing to do with what Sharma has said.
“What she said is her opinion and not that of the Centre. The policy of the Modi government is not to interfere in any religious issues,” he said in his reaction to Sharma’s call for abolishing the practice of “confessions” in churches as it can lead to blackmailing of women.
The recommendations has come after an alleged rape surfaced, in Kerala against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church after the Avictim who regularly visited the church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade, after she had confessed this to one of the priests.
Her husband had complained that she came under the duress from at least five priests.
It was one priest in the beginning who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her.
When she sought help from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.
It was after the NCW wrote to the state police chief to look into the case, did the state government take interest and appointed a special probe team which arrested two priests, who have now secure bail, while the other two managed to get relief from the Supreme Court, which has prevented their arrest, till the court makes its final decision.
The Archbishop told the media that the action by the NCW is outrageous and they are writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
“There is no doubt that the NCW has their rights, duties and powers, but there should not be a generalisation based on one case. What the NCW should note is that this particular case is presently on and the probe is going on and if there is anyone guilty, strict action should be taken,” said Susaipakiam.
He also pointed out that confession is a sacrament that allows a person to confide in God by telling their sins.
“The priest is only a tool and it’s only the God which can pardon one’s sins and it’s through confession that this is achieved. As per the Catholic rites, it’s only a male priest can hear the confession and according to rules, the confession is always kept as a secret,” the Archbishop added.