Kerala church urged to allow nuns to hear confession

Thiruvananthapuram: Citing the alleged sexual abuse of a married woman by five priests, women members of a Kerala-based outfit on July 1, sought reform of the centuries-old method of sacrament of confession, saying nuns should also be allowed to perform the penance for women.

Representatives of the Kerala Church Act Action Council, an outfit comprising members from various church denominations who stand for reforms in the Church, said there was a possibility of intimate confessions by women being “misused” in the present form.

Last month, a man from Pathanamthitta district accused five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala of using his wife’s secret confession to blackmail and sexually abuse her.

Vice-chairperson of the Kerala Church Act Action Council, Indulekha Joseph said this incident could not be viewed as an isolated episode and similar incidents might have been taking place across denominations for decades.
Joseph termed the practice of only priests performing sacrament of confession an example of gender bias in the Church.

“Why are nuns not being allowed to perform the same? They are also strictly adhering to the church rules and following the prescribed norms. Hence, they should be allowed to perform the penance for women and minors instead of priests,” she said.

She claimed that nowhere in the Bible was it said that only priests should perform the sacrament of confession.

“Otherwise, an ancient method like ‘Pizhamoolal’, in which believers seek forgiveness by recounting their sins in their minds in the presence of a priest, should be reinstated. There is no need for vocal confession,” Joseph said. This, she added, would prevent the misuse of confessions.

“The women members of our outfit will stage a dharna in front of the Secretariat here on July 7 demanding government intervention to end the exploitation of women in the name of the religious practice,” she told PTI.

Joseph, also a lawyer, said the group had raised the same demand last year after a Catholic priest allegedly raped a minor girl in Kannur district’s Kottiyoor village.

Though a representation was given to the church authorities, no action was taken, she said.

The alleged sexual abuse by Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priests came to light after an audio clip containing the victim’s husband’s purported conversation with a church official alleging sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on the social media.

Last week, a Crime Branch probe was ordered into the case by state police chief Loknath Behara.


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8 thoughts on “Kerala church urged to allow nuns to hear confession

  1. Individuals have many points and many solutions. Every Commandment can be interpreted in different ways. Every teaching of Jesus too. Who is the apex authority ? Every religion has its own code of conduct,traditions and rules. The problem is not the absence of ideas and solutions, but unwillingness to comply with the rules. So civil authorities will come into the picture when necessities arise. The religious authorities must apply their rules and try to settle things amicably and peacefully.

  2. The people who could not accept the Catholic doctrines with regard to faith and morals have quit the Church and started other sects or left the church for good. Those who can not accept them, may feel free to leave. Jesus said that all can not enter the kingdom of God; only those who persevere till the end.

  3. The sacrament of penance (confession) in its present form is long outdated. The young generation has abandoned it. The women should boycott it.

  4. It is not clear why the Jalandhar nun complained to Kerala police instead of Punjab police. This nun belongs to a diocese attached to Latin Rite. So when Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the head of the Church of Latin Rite in India ,it is not clear why the nun did not approach him. These are important points not discussed by anyone media.

  5. Sheer ignorance. The Catholic Church liturgy and Sacraments are not matters that are decided by popular votes. As long as humans exist, temptations to sexual gratification exists. Rules framed by Religions and the State are to be obeyed and disobedience is punishable by God / Civil authority. No reform can suppress the desires. Only faith in oneself,in God will help individuals to overcome the temptation and lead a righteous life.

  6. A better understanding of the sacraments is essential before anyone makes comments. The truth is that the Sacraments can only be administered by the ORDAINED MINISTER OF THE CHURCH, i.e. a Priest (and of course bishop). A nun is not an ordained minister of the Church and so, no matter what, cannot hear confessions and give absolution. Not even Mother Teresa who founded a congregation for priests had the faculty to do that. By staging dharnas, and making written demands, the position cannot change. On the contrary we cut a sorry figure before the civil authorities who wonder as to what we know about our faith at all.

  7. Great step. Women with the calling for spiritual life must be trained for hearing the confessions. No women need to confess to a male Priest because some of them are very dangerous like these five Priests.

    Since confession is not taught in the Bible, the Churches where this practice is in operation must gradually eradicate the system. Our inner secrets must be confessed only to JESUS who died for our sins, not to any other human being.

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