Kerala Church Body Sees 'Hidden Agenda', Writes to PM Modi After Proposed Ban on Confessions
National Commission of Women chairperson Rekha Sharma’s recommendations to the government stated that the practice of "confession" should be abolished as it could lead to women being subjected to blackmail.
Representative image. (REUTERS)
Thiruvananthapuram: National Commission of Women chairperson Rekha Sharma’s recommendation to abolish the practice of confession in churches triggered a huge row on Friday as Kerala’s top Catholic Church Body wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complain about the “shocking” statement.
Archbishop of Latin Catholic Archdiocese Trivandrum and Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference, Dr Soosa Pakiam, wondered if there was a hidden agenda behind the recommendation by the women’s panel chief.
“The PM and the people in power say that they will not do anything against the Constitution. They will respect our religious rights. But in practice, when we see such statements, we are tempted to suspect a hidden agenda and this is what we want to bring out in open to people concerned," he told News18.
He added that the statement was a violation of the constitutional rights under Article 25, which guarantees everyone the right to practice their religion.
"Practice of confession has been there for centuries. Aberrations are there but that is not a reason for NCW chairperson to come and say that this age-old tradition should be abolished. A person who is not a member of the church and has nothing to do with the laws and faith of the church should not all of a sudden come and dictate that we should abolish this. That's is what we are reacting to," the archbishop said.
Sharma had on Thursday sent recommendations to the government in light of the recent allegations of rape against priests and a Bishop in Kerala. Her recommendations stated that the practice of "confession" should be abolished as it could lead to women being subjected to blackmail.
She added that a central agency should conduct a proper investigation in the increasing incidents of rape and sexual assault in churches of Kerala.
Last month, the NCW chairperson had visited the 34- year-old woman, who has alleged that she was blackmailed and sexually assaulted by four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Head of the church at the centre of the controversy, Marthoma Paulose II, also said that the NCW chairperson has no right to interfere in religious affairs. “It is an attempt to deny people’s right to practice their religion,” he said.
Marthoma Paulose II said the church had taken a stand that the priests should be punished if they are found guilty. “It is not correct to blame all the priests in the church based on allegations,” he said. Following the allegations, the church sent the accused priests on leave.
Kerala BJP leader George Kurian on Thursday also warned that any move to abolish the practice will be met with opposition. “Feminist ideology has crossed its limits with the move,” he said.
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