Kerala bishops decry women commission’s call to abolish confession

The commission’s “irresponsible” recommendations betray ignorance about Christian faith and practices

By Matters India Reporter

Kochi: The Catholic bishops in Kerala on July 26 lambasted the National Commission for Women’s call for abolishing the practice of confessions in Christian Churches.

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

“The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council strongly protests the women commission’s recommendations done for some hidden political agenda,” it adds.

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

Commission chairperson Rekha Sharma says priests pressure 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, and sent its findings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the heads of police departments in Kerala and Punjab.

The Kerala bishops say they find the commission’s recommendations “based on one isolated case” as “irresponsible” and done with “ulterior motives.” The commission did not bother to consider the theological, religious and psychological reasons for confession, consult responsible persons or hear the Churches before deciding on a matter that it had no jurisdiction, the council asserted.

“Confession for Christian Churches is a Sacrament. It is the path for spiritual growth and eternal salvation. Confession has been in vogue in Christian Churches for centuries,” explains the press release issued by Father Varghese Vallikkatt, the official spokesperson of the bishops’ council.

The priest also points out that hundreds of thousands of people – both men and women — have confessed to thousands of priests over the past centuries. “There are cases where priests have sacrificed their lives to keep the confessional seal,” adds Father Vallikkatt, who is also the council’s deputy secretary general.

The press release says the commission chairperson has no idea about confession or its purpose and her recommendations violate the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. “They are part of attempts to create religious animosity and spread tension and violence in society,” the press release alleges.

Meanwhile, the Tellicherry unit of the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement organized a candlelight protest against the women commission’s recommendation. “Commission chairperson Rekha Sharma has crossed all limits by ridiculing confession and hurting the religious faith of Christians,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry, who led the protest on July 26 evening.

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5 thoughts on “Kerala bishops decry women commission’s call to abolish confession

  1. For people of other faiths reading from this board, they will only take with them the explanations that are ANTI faith, Na? They were most probably reading all the explanations that are so ANTI confession/celibacy among priests/Catholicism etc – which we can find so often than what is correct and right, Na?

    We may even assume, that people will know The Truth by default, but do they? Clearly, this is a great reminder for us to come right out and speak up in what we believe, even IF it is repetitive for the sake of those who are yet to know Lord Jesus in an intimate way, gifted by HIM…

    IF each of us can write even two lines on the greatness of confession, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Who waits for us at the confessional to hold us, to wash us clean with HIS blood, then those from other faiths will also get to understand bits and pieces of WHY we want to continue going for confession… Na?

    Will be great if our young cubs can hold rallies and processions with placards, post the goodness of confession on social media and spread THE GOOD NEWS of this inexplicably incredible Sacrament… perhaps we must do the same for the Holy Eucharist also.

    Much prayers everyone,
    With much love in Christ Jesus,

  2. It is a pity that we do not / CANNOT feel the pain enough, when our Sacraments are being desecrated. It is NOT the fault of the NCW, but us, for (1) not ensuring adequate representation / understanding of the members of the NCW (2) for not putting off the flame of discontent in boards like these, when the 1st desecration are inflamed from verbal(written) swords…

    How can the NCW understand the glory of being saved through confession when we are ourselves NOT glorifying that GLORY enough, Na? I remember in an interview for “Call to Serve” on Divine TV n Goodness TV, Rev Fr Dr Hormis Thottakara in his interview so wonderfully explained how a priest can SAVE A PERSON, SOMETHING THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN! NO Leader can save, NO authority on earth can save a sinner as much as a priest can, by becoming the channel of God’s mercy, compassion and pardon… which is also why he gives that top priority…

    BUT then, that aspect has to be understood and enjoyed, marveled and propagated enough by those who are saved, is it not? I am to blame also, because I have NOT done enough to PROCLAIM the awesomeness of confession, the wondrous touch of our wonder-working God through the Sacrament of confession / reconciliation. Because, had I done my part, then ALL those in authority in our nation, would’ve understood already, that we breathe by that anointing, that we yearn for the NEW LIFE from it, that we transform our lives bit by bit by the healing that it provides for us… that it is such a priceless treasure that God so magnanimously embraces us with, FREELY…

    Indeed, this is a GRAND opportunity for our Church to make MIGHTY CHANGES so as to ensure that THE KEY ingredients of our nourishment are NOT misunderstood or misused further on…

    Much prayers continue for everyone,
    With LOVE in Christ Jesus,

  3. Religious freedom is not the freedom to oppress women, women who have internalized an oppressive discourse generated by patriarchs.


  4. Why did the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council not issue any statement when the sacrament of confession was misused by priests for blackmailing a woman into submission to their lustful desires? Shame on KCBC.

  5. Already more than 50% faithful have abandoned the practice of confession. Protestants do not have it. If the Church finds the recommendation of the Commission unacceptable, a referendum of the faithfuls may be conducted.

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