In an effort to stop growing sexual crimes involving priests in the state, a Catholic Reformation Movement was organized by a group of Christians in Kerala, demanding that nuns should be allowed to hear confession for women and minor girls, not priests.
The protest took place on Sunday and went on to stress upon the fact that often while women make confessions before priests, that leads to exploitation. The aim was to make the Catholic Church realize what patriarchal issues have been going on inside the holy place.
The Kerala Catholic Reformation Movement (KCRM), a Kerala-based layman’s outfit, took the matter in their hand and as their motto is to promote reforms in the church, they staged a dharna to end this age-old ritual. A huge number of women and senior citizens took part in front of the Major Archbishop’s House at Marine Drive in Kochi, asserting their demand.
It is no secret that the number of incidents of sexual abuse of minors by priests are increasing in the country and now many are afraid of going to priests.
“In Bible, there is no mention that the sacrament of confession should be done only by priests. We want nuns to perform this to check increasing crime involving priests,” Indulekha Joseph, a spokesperson and a member of the outfit, claimed, Hindustan Times reported.
According to her, a mass memorandum will be organized soon discussing the subject and they will take the matter to Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church.
“Once a crime is committed, the first reaction is an attempt to cover it up. This emboldens others also to commit the same crime,” a spokesperson for the Catholic Laymen’s Association said.
The confession or penance and reconciliation is one of the important sacraments of the Catholic church, performed by followers who seek mercy for their sins before a priest.
“There are many instances that during confession, the priest concerned asks the woman embarrassing questions. Some find an eternal pleasure in this. Since there are many experienced nuns around, the task should be entrusted to them,” Sister Jesme, who was reportedly discarded of her robe in 2010 alleging sexual exploitation, said.
On the other hand, Joseph said, “Church authorities have told me that many women confess in a bid to ‘entice’ the priest. If such issues exist, then how can women differentiate between good priests and the rest?” reported an English daily.
“Nuns should be allowed to conduct Sacraments such as the Eucharist and the confession. Jesus had given the right to forgive sins to his disciples. Just because all his disciples ended up being men because of the societal norms back then, doesn’t mean that traditions cannot be amended with time,” Joseph added.
The argument caught national attention because no other churches from India have ever demanded such an unexpected change before.
If this protest goes on and is able to make the Church understand the sensitivity of the matter, India will rise with a new hope.
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