The Kerala-based Syro Malabar Catholic Church has decided to set up internal committees to create a safe environment for people working in churches, convents and other institutions under the church, PTI reported on Thursday.
The decision was taken at the synod of the church which is currently under way in Kochi. Around 55 bishops are attending the synod or an assembly of the clergy.
The Syro Malabar church’s directive comes after a bishop was accused of raping a nun. In June, the police filed charges against Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal after a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kerala’s Kottayam. Mulakkal has denied the charges.
Under the Safe Environment Policy, all dioceses will have grievance redressal cells with representatives from the congregations as well. The cells will hear complaints against the clergy.
An official communique said the church will form these committees under the guidelines of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference, reported The Times of India. Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference spokesperson Varghese Vallikkatt said in instances of child abuse, the committees will enable reporting of incidents to law enforcement agencies. “Also, it will have the responsibility to create awareness among those dealing with children about ideal practices,” Vallikkatt said.
An unidentified official of the Syro Malabar Church said the policy would be focussed on children and vulnerable adults, but anyone can approach the committees with grievances, including people from outside the church. Each committee will have a safety director to address the grievances.