The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on Saturday strongly opposed the National Commission for Women’s (NCW) recommendation for abolishing the practice of confessions in churches, saying it was an integral part of Christianity and cannot be interfered with. The assertion by the NCM comes a day after the NCW chief Rekha Sharma recommended the ban saying the practice can lead to blackmailing of women.
Sharma made the recommendation after allegations against four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala of using a married woman’s confession to sexually abuse her came to light last month.
“The minority commission outrightly rejects the recommendation and is opposed to it,” NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi told PTI. “The practice of confession is an integral part of the religion of Christianity, so it cannot be banned. There can be no interference with religious practice,” he said.
Yesterday, Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam, a native of Kerala and a Christian, too dismissed the NCW’s recommendation, saying the Modi government would never interfere with people’s religious beliefs.
“It is not the official stand of the government,” Kannanthanam, the Union Minister of State for Tourism, said in a Facebook post. “It is the personal opinion of the NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma,” he added.
Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council president Archbishop Soosa Pakiam, at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday, said a memorandum had been sent to the Prime Minister against the recommendation which was shocking not just for Christians, but for everyone who stands for freedom of religion.
Pakiam has also written to NCM vice chairman George Kurien requesting him to raise the Church’s concern before the appropriate authorities. Kurien is learnt to have forwarded Pakiam’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The NCW had constituted an inquiry committee to look into alleged sexual assaults against women in churches and has sent its findings to Modi, Singh, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the DGP of Kerala and Punjab.