Orthodox Church suspends priests accused of sexual abuse

The scandal broke out after an audio clip of the husband began circulating on social media

By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: The Malankara Orthodox Church has confirmed that it has received a complaint against five priests for allegedly sexually exploiting a married woman.

On June 25, the Kottayam-based Church temporarily suspended the five priests and asked to go on leave. Its press release confirmed receiving a complaint from the woman’s husband.

The scandal broke out after an audio clip of the husband began circulating on social media.

The man, a member of the Church, had complained that the five priests used confessional secrets to blackmail the woman.

Although the scandal went viral on social media mid-June, the Church leaders did not respond for days. This led to protests from other Church members.

Three priests belong to Niranam diocese and one priest each from Thumpamon and Delhi dioceses.

The press release said a probe has been ordered and that the Church will not protect those who indulge in wrongdoing. The Church will punish the priests if their guilt is proven. However, the innocent persons will not be punished, it added.

The release says that directions will be issued to other priests in the Church to stand firm on values and to function with dependence on God.

In the audio clip, the husband of the woman, a resident of Thiruvalla, alleges that his wife began facing the abuse even before they were married. However, it took a turn for the worse after she told this to another priest during a confession, which is supposed to be kept a secret.

The second priest not only began sexually exploiting her, but passed on the information to three other priests, including one based in Delhi. The woman was subjected to more exploitation that continued for years.

All the five priests allegedly kept in touch with her over phone and social media, without the other priests knowing about the affair.

The woman’s husband came to know about it in February after the Delhi-based priest flew down to Kochi to meet her at a five-star hotel, where the room was booked using the woman’s debit card.

When confronted by her husband, the woman narrated the years of blackmail she had gone through at the hands of the five priests.

The leaked audio clip is a purported conversation between the husband and a Church official.

The man says he did not want to defame the Church but alleged that his wife has not yet divulged the complete details. According to him, at least 5-8 priests were involved.

“I am told that at best the bishop will suspend them for six months. I am not going to settle for that. I want their ordinations to be revoked and they removed from the church,” the man is heard saying in the clip.

He also alleged that ever since he went public with the allegations, many influential people in the Church have tried to threaten and pacify him to withdraw the complaint.

However, a police complaint is yet to be registered.

A Church spokesman said some allegations were “very old” and questioned why there was no complaint if the alleged exploitation was happening for years.

Priests in the Orthodox Church are allowed to marry unlike those in the Catholic Church.

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11 thoughts on “Orthodox Church suspends priests accused of sexual abuse

  1. A GOOD confession IN The Truth, WILL SET FREE any sinner! Lord Jesus Who forgives, just as HIS Merciful Father, has also suggested (maybe even commanded) that the persons “healed” also meet up with their local Church authorities to streamline/”finalize” the wholesome healing. This can be in the form of a divine “offering” – in ways of self-sacrifice/s – to tone up the grace just received. Each grace we receive HAS TO BE DEVELOPED as in ROOTED+GROWN TO BEAR FRUIT – as per God’s WILL for that grace given to us, is it not?

    So now coming to the lady who is being harassed/’black mailed’/abused – as per the husband (as we read from the NEWS), does it occur to some others as well that the lady may require some GOOD counsel sessions also? Because a GOOD confession would have filled her with grace to follow-up with a GOOD LIFE ‘NOT sinning AGAIN’ Na? Now most people will say that that is a hard bargain (OUCH!), that it is human to fall back into sin – that priests ARE ALSO human etc etc Na? Well yes, we do understand that the grace of self-control needs our total commitment to it… that IF weak (confession or commitment) then the priests – the channel of grace – and the forgiven, can together make a rich pathway for evil’s programme of perpetuating lust among priests (tarnishing the holiness of priesthood) AND among the faithful (infiltrating the holiness and sanctity of family life) with more sins! Does not fidelity require for us to fight A WAR against its satanic enemies, so as to sustain it? Then we must WAR AGAINST evil, NOT mollycoddle evil, Na? 🙂

    IF LOVE was the result of the lady’s initial confession, IF she was able to experience the LOVE OF GOD through that AWESOME Sacrament (an anointing of grace from God Himself through the priest as HIS instrument) – then there would have been an amazing REBUILDING of her life, from the old muck to NEW LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS!

    Very obviously, her confession became an instrument of temptation for the priests and the sessions after, became a route of ‘blackmail / abuse’ IF this is all true/as is… IF a hotel room was booked (5star?!) for an act of lust by the lady, WITH A PRIEST, besides also networking among priests for such acts, then, what is the motive of the lady? Was it NEW LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS that she sought in the first place? OR was she baiting something/people? Sorry to say this, but there are always two sides to such situations of abuse, which must be investigated thoroughly…

    HOW DID THE PRIEST fly in from Delhi and did he for this act of lust alone?! How was that approved? What is the complete information on this case? And the husband, is he fighting for a cause for the wife OR for building a case for the disrobing of the priests?

    This is a very sad situation for our Church – NO DOUBT THERE! Yet, questions that remain unanswered ought to be correctly investigated, so that the faithful KNOW THE TRUTH, such that further destruction does not occur in so many inter-connected lives…

    Just because some have NOT understood the wondrous work of God thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation / Confession, does NOT mean, that this CHANNEL OF GRACE must be desecrated with misunderstandings, misconceptions, misinterpretations and failures, Na? IF even ONE GOOD Confession was experienced by the lady, then she would’ve ideally become Mary Magdalene OR that woman whose stoning was stopped by Lord Jesus Himself, as HE forgave her through her silent heart-felt transforming confession…

    Our Church am certain has many wonder-working priests, who like Lord Jesus, have taken those in sin onward onto a life of REBUILDING IN CHRIST JESUS, renewed in HIM, consoled by HIS Holy Spirit and made courageous to face temptation from there on… Our God did NOT build a Church on the foundation of our weaknesses, but did it on the strength of HIS Divine graces… and continues to renovate and REBUILD it with fresh newness as is required, through more incredibly relevant graces from HIM for us…

    Much prayers continue for everyone 🙂 Be NOT dismayed because a few have lost their way, but rejoice that many have found THEIR STRONGHOLD in Christ Jesus, Who can transform any sinner to a unique Saint, anytime anyhow dear people… We MUST INCREASE our much prayers (love) for one another and for our Church…
    With love in Christ Jesus,

  2. Orthodox priests are allowed to marry. They are having family and married life.Then why this type of allegations are coming up. If they are committed crime. They should come under the law of Justice. Dr.Fr.Shaji,E.

  3. Peter, the first Pope was the Bishop of Rome, he was married because JESUS healed his mother in-law. The Bible tells that the elder of the Church must be married with children. How and when the bachelor’s priesthood was penetrated? That is man-made, not according to the Bible.

    The Bible, is it the word of GOD?

    Then the subject of GOD’s salvation from sin is freely given to the humanity. GOD gave HIS only begotten son JESUS CHRIST for the sins of the world at the cross.

    Simply look to the day of crucifixion. One thief who was penitent made an open confession of his sins and pleaded to JESUS to remember him when He is in paradise. JESUS gave him salvation instantly and said ” you will be with me in paradise today”. Did the thief take baptism through immersion or sprinkling, the Lord’s supper or mass, give money to the Church treasury and confession before a priest? Thief’s confession for salvation was an open confession.

    Ruthless tax collector Zacchaeus heard that JESUS was coming to Jericho. Short Zacchaeus to get a clear vision of JESUS had to climb a thorny tree. JESUS saw him and told him come down and said, I will be eating at your home. Really spiritually shaken tax collector had the conviction of the holy spirit and openly declared without ever JESUS asking him to do, that he will give half of his wealth to the poor and pay back four fold to anybody from whom he has collected undue tax, if he has ever done likewise. That was an open confession.

    JESUS replied instantly ” today salvation has come to your home. (Luke 19:1-19) This is the way GOD’s salvation plan is being operated. But different denominations have created their salvation plans to keep the believers under oppression-slavery as money machine machines. When the believers are going to get the sense and vision of the penitent thief at the cross?

  4. First of all, how this “confession” spiritual food came into the Church, and where is the reference in the Bible? Spiritual counseling and confession are entirely two things. It is very dangerous to share the personal secrets to the Priest, and some of them who are diabolical in a priestly garment like the above said five can very easily exploit the victims for their advantage. This confession theory has an underlying motive to control and exploit the believers.

    These devils must be punished without any mercy. What kind of spiritual uplift the believers of the Churches had where they were ministering?

  5. Does Nedumparambil think that his arguments against Christian faith or the Catholic Church are flimsy ? Definitely not. The believers and followers of any faith for hundreds and thousands of years based on the teachings and utterances of a leading figure or divine person have their own reasons to accept their faith. They don’t consider it silly. Let us not consider them as less intellectuals. No argument about a faith or the observances can lead us to any amicable spot. Knowing this ,it is not clear how a non believer in Christian faith and traditions can comment this way. Of course there is freedom

  6. The same will apply to married people too. They on their own accord come to marry But fails sometimes celibacy too like that.
    Believe ,that it is human determination based on “faith” or whatever you call. Every aspect of human life is like that. The depth of human mind none has seen/ measured

  7. Marriage should not be taken as a solution for lust. Sacrament of marriage is divine. Only those who accept the divinity of the Sacrament can view things in that perspective. Large scale failure to live a Christian life with its moral ethics is the argument for the change. There comes the Word of God —there is nothing impossible for God—
    His help is required. How to get it is each one’s look out

  8. Celibacy is meaningful only when it comes on its own accord, as a result of meditation and spiritual sadhana. When you make it a pre-condition for being ordained to the priesthood, it becomes ugly. Nothing holy in forced celibacy.

  9. This case shows that allowing married clergy in the church will prevent sexual abuse against women by clergy is a myth. The Catholic tradition of celibate priests with all its warts and moles stands vindicated… Clergy celibacy should be seen as a call to holiness.

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