A bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that priests sexually assaulting women is a ‘disturbing trend’. Just this year, two such cases have emerged from different parts of the country where Catholic priests have been accused of blackmail and even rape.
New Delhi: The honourable Supreme Court of India on Wednesday described the back-to-back sex scandals involving Catholic priests as a ‘disturbing trend’. A bench of the country’s top court expressed its disappointment with the cases of sexual assault emerging from one of the country’s most respectable churches.
The court’s observation came after the bench heard the ordeal of two victims who have accused the priests of sexual harassment. Justice Sikri expressed shock at the cases being reported from Kerala. The court also took note of the fact that most priests who are being investigated under these allegations have sought anticipatory bail.
In two separate incidents, accusations of sexual assault against priests and a bishop have rocked the Catholic community in India. Earlier this year, four priests with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church confessed to blackmailing and sexually assaulting a woman who had come to them seeking a confession. In another case, the Bishop of Jalandhar was accused of raping a highly placed nun and threatening her and her family members to carry out no legal actions.
The case has sparked a debate since National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Rekha Sharma in a recommendation to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said that the practice of ‘confessions’ should be abolished in churches across India. Large sections of the Catholic community came out in protest of the recommendation and said that the NCW is considering isolated incidents to reach the recommendations it has put forward.
Earlier this month, Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to let their protest against the recommendation known. The body also wrote to National Minority Commission attacking the NCW chairman’s proposal by calling it communally intended and politically motivated.
Going by media reports, Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference has called for a nationwide protest against the recommendation on August 5.