Demand for ban on confession shocks Cardinal Gracias

Instead of dabbling in religious matters, the commission should focus on issues concerning women


By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: The head of the Catholic Church in India on July 27 expressed shock at the National Commission for Women’s demand for a ban on the Christian practice of confession.

“This demand by the commission betrays a total lack of understanding of the nature, meaning, sanctity and importance of this Sacrament for our people; and also an ignorance of the strict laws of the Church to prevent any abuse,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said in a press release.

The 73-year-old prelate, one of the eight cardinal advisers of Pope Francis, said such a ban will directly infringe on “our freedom of religion guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.”

According to him, millions of people from all over the world, over the centuries, have testified to the spiritual benefit of this Sacrament and to the grace, pardon and peace they have experienced as a result of receiving this Sacrament. “I am confident the government will totally ignore this absurd demand from the commission,” he added.

The cardinal was reacting to commission chairperson Rekha Sharma’s recommendation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some of his cabinet colleagues to take steps to abolish the practice of confession in Christian Churches.

The commission, a statutory body concerned with advising the Indian government on policy matters affecting women, reportedly recommended confession’s abolition alleging that the practice could lead to blackmailing of women.

Sharma on July 26 said priests pressured women into telling their secrets. “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,” she said.

The recommendations come in the backdrop of a rape case against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church accused of sexually exploiting a married woman belonging to their church.

The issue came to the fore after the victim’s husband wrote to the Church, alleging that the priests blackmailed and abused his wife, a school teacher.

The commission constituted an inquiry committee to look into alleged sexual assaults against women in churches.

Cardinal Gracias says the commission should pay attention to “very many issues concerning women” such as empowerment of women, their capacity building, prevention of domestic violence and organizing rescue systems, instead of dabbling in religious matters about which it understands nothing.

“The Church wishes to promote even more the advancement of women in society and is ready to collaborate with the National Commission for Women for this, as it does with other agencies,” Cardinal Gracias vouches.

Earlier, on July 26, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council lambasted the commission’s demand.

The media reports about the commission’s recommendation have shocked not only Christians but all those who stand for religious freedom, the bishops’ press release said.

The Kerala bishops saw some hidden political agenda behind the recommendation.

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18 thoughts on “Demand for ban on confession shocks Cardinal Gracias

  1. Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession”.

  2. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is a treasure that Jesus gifted to the Church. Any number of Catholics will vouch for the good that it has done to them The present form has evolved through the centuries as many things do in society.Of course, like all good things or gifts, it can be misused. However, can anybody deny that the actual misuse of this great Sacrament is minuscule compared to the millions of ‘Confessions’?

    It must be stressed that this is a good time for all in the Church to understand this Sacrament. Efforts must be made by clergy and laity alike. Also the practice of behind a special Confessional, where the priest and the penitent are not necessarily visible to one another, should be renewed. Another suggestion: priests should be more available for the reception of this Sacrament, more available especially to the sick and aged.

  3. It is high time for the matters India to use precise language… Logically right sentence… July 27 cbci shocked? I think it is good to use the word “shock” when reacted instantly on the same hour or on same day….
    We hear lot from Kerala bishops conference, Kerala charismatic leaders reacting it clarifying the sanctity of the sacrament…. Actually I use the same expression earlier used in matters India comment…..cbci is sleeping bull instead of watching dog…
    We saw Hindu fundamentals reacted the circular used only in Delhi parish churches, instantly….( on the eve of instant death of archbishop virthukulagara at cbci office premise) Because they are really watching to protect their cause…. I am not ashamed to say the cbci is a sleeping bull… Is there a PRO in cbci… We heared sometimes back babu joseph. now days cbci engaged in appointing bps from Dalit, arranging inter caste marriages in the church Etc… What fate for India Catholicism
    CRI is a working like wolf watching the fall of the clerics and bishops, they are fat by drinking the blood of the church. They only concerned about political power to make bishops from among them and inner politics for general ship and provincial team etc…

    We heard many holy mothers (catholic woman) in Kerala though with their little educational background came forward to protect this holy sacrament of reconciliation. While nuns are still keeping it as an opportunity as genter topic ‘the confession’…. None of the nun came forward to answer to protect the holy sacrament when chance is for the women to answer the woman commission’s unwanted intrusion into catholic practices.
    Very sorry to see most respected chhotebhai’s reaction to sacrament…this way…. We don’t mind when comedian Mr.George nedumparambil utter anti faith concepts in the name of moderninity..

  4. Each and every sacrament of the Church is meant to heal and nourish the soul. The Sacrament of Confession has immense value and can be understood only by those who have genuinely made use of it. However, there is no compulsion and the people have freedom to make their choice. As such, since people have individual choice, it should be left to their discretion without imposing anything on anyone. A ban on something like this which is crucial to our faith is unjustified and comments by people who have no idea of its importance is clearly unappreciated.

  5. I feel I am an enlightened Catholic and I believe in the Church. I also consider that Faith in modernism like women priesthood,easy divorce,abortion,gay marriage etc does not make one “enlightened”. I believe in full freedom of individuals and each can live according to his/ her thinking

  6. Why did the Cardinal not issue any statement when the sacrament of confession was misused by priests? It would be advisable to ordain nus as priests.

  7. It is given by the church if you believe in. Many those who comment are not the speakers of the entire individuals. If you don’t like to go you don’t do it but why are you talking for others. Besides those who argue against are those who don’t believe in any sacraments or sacramental values either. Plese leave it to the faithful like us who believe in the sacramental value of the confession.

  8. I do agree with the comment of Mr.George Menachery.
    This is an occasion to give a real meaning of the Sacrament of Confession to the world and its historical development starting from the Command of the Lord Jesus to the Apostles. I expect a formal reply from the authorities concerned with detailed study of the subject so that men and women of good will can benefit from the positive aspect of this God given Channel of Grace.

  9. Such naive, BIASED and ignorant persons as Ms Rekha Sharma do not qualify to be the National Women’s Commission. We could press for her replacement.

  10. Any one who has experienced the power of this sacrament will know what it is and how life imparting it is! Those speak against it do not know the nature and the purpose of this wonderful sacrament. At the same time it is also known fact that any sacrament can be misused and the misuses are not arguments against them. My appeal is let all the Catholics first of all know the nature of the Scaraments and also teach others who do not know them.

  11. ARE WE OK?
    This is time for genuine and critical introspection for the Indian Church

    On the one hand there is a falsE propaganda by few non-christians with vested interest to pull down the dignity and Credibility of Catholic Church but on the other hand, we should note that many priests in the parishes are not keen to offer their availability for Confessions of the penitents.

    The priests are to be guided in the Regional and and National level on the basic expectations of a pastor to be available to the Inner growth of the People.

    The amount of focus and insistence shown in the New translation of the Liturgical and Prayers of Holy Mass (WOndefully done) has not been given to the very fundamental pastoral duties of a priest like Visiting families, Periodical Communion to the elderly and the sick, Periodical if not few days of the week to be available at the Confessional, motivating the Youth for VOcation, Commitment to the BCC and Pious associations etc.

    The Regional Bishops Conferences, CCBI, CBCI and their commissions on various areas have to check how effectively we can guide our own flock in their pastoral, socio-economic, psycho-spiritual demands.

    Already many Catholics are running to Pentacostal groups which seem ( Atleast peripherally) to attend to the RIghtful spiritual demands of the faithful…while we, Catholics seem to be by and large concerned more about running our Institutions….
    Are we on the Right track?
    Nithiya OFM.Cap

  12. Can a person who ridicules his own faith system be considered a part of that system? People who have lost their faith in the Catholic belief and practices need not become adviser to the Pope and Cardinals. They are free to live and worship as they wish and perish. If the salt loses its taste, it is is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

  13. If there is violation in the confession, let it be tried and the individual priest is punished .Why abolish confession which is life for the Catholics as far as their faith is concerned .

    Why for a single individual ‘s wrong, all be punished?

  14. Hardened criminals are not likely to go for confession. Sex, being deeply personal, has much emotion attached to it. For a woman to confess to a man is traumatic. We should have women’s ordination

  15. There is a chasm between what the vast majority of adult enlightened Catholics believe and what the clergy ptopagate. Soon after Vatican II we introduced general absolution. We should revive that practice.

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