An Indian federal agency has proposed abolishing the sacrament of confession on grounds that Christian priests misuse it to blackmail and target women, but church officials believe the plan is unnecessary interference in religious affairs.
The National Commission for Women, a body that protects women’s interests, has also proposed a federal inquiry into two cases of rape and sexual assault involving clergy of two Christian churches in Kerala, media reports said.
“The priests pressure women into telling their secrets and we have one such case in front of us. There must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg,” commission chairwoman Rekha Sharma said.
The commission probed a man’s claim that four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church used the confession secrets of his wife to blackmail and sexually exploit her.
It also investigated a June 29 complaint by a 48-year-old Catholic nun that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese in Punjab raped her four years ago. She accused the bishop of abusing her 13 more times over the following two years on his visits to Kerala.Both cases are now under police investigation.
The commission constituted an independent panel to probe them and sent its findings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the heads of police departments in Kerala and Punjab.
Indian bishops said the commission’s proposal to scrap confession was unwarranted interference in the affairs of Christians.
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