Members of the Catholic church have objected to the National Commission for Women’s recommendation asking the government to abolish the practice of confession in churches. The commission said that the practice, which is meant to be a secret under church laws, was allegedly used to blackmail people, and hindered the “security and safety of women.”
Archbishop of Bombay Diocese and President of Catholic Bishops Conference of India Cardinal Oswald Gracias said abolishing confession is a “direct infringement on our freedom of religion guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.” He said there are several issues concerning women that the commission should attend to instead of “dabbling in religious matters about which it understands nothing”.
The Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council said the commission made the recommendations without consulting churches and Christian communities. The council’s spokesperson Varghese Vallikkatt called the commission’s move an attack on “Christian faith”.
“We strongly feel the recommendation unwarranted and violating the honour and credibility of the Christian community,” he said in a statement. “We suspect communal and political motives behind this interference into the spiritual affairs of the Church.”
Archbishop of Trivandrum Catholic Archdiocese Soosa Pakiam confirmed that a memorandum will be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NDTV reported.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church too objected to the commission’s recommendations, saying the NCW chairperson has no right to interfere in religious affairs. The church has decided to observe a protest on August 5 against the proposal, ANI reported.
The commission made the recommendations following two scandals that surfaced in Kerala last month – one involving four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church blackmailing and sexually abusing a woman, and the second one in which a Catholic nun accused the Bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal, of rape.
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said the commission has recommended an investigation into the cases “because such incidents are on a rise in Kerala”.