Fr Edwin Figarez, the Catholic priest who was arrested last year by the police for raping a 14-year-old girl multiple times, allegedly abused her while she went to him for confession.
Fr Robin Vadakkanchery, arrested for allegedly raping and impregnating a minor who later delivered a baby, reportedly committed the crimes when she visited the church for confession and prayers.
In the wake of these incidents, an association named Kerala Catholic Church reformation movement (KCRM) has sought a change in the patriarchal systems being followed in the church. The association has demanded that the church should allow nuns to conduct confessions of women, as there are chances of priests misusing their secrets.
KRCM protested outside Bishop house in Ernakulam on Sunday, demanding an end to patriarchy in the Church.
Speaking to TNM, advocate Indulekha Joseph, one of the leaders of KCRM says, “We cannot differentiate which priest has bad intentions. Inside the confession cubicle, when women confess about their sins, some priests ask them to describe the sins fully. There are instances where priests threaten these women using their confession secrets. That is also how women get abused by priests.”
“Priests can ask anything sitting inside the cubicle. They can get any personal details in the name of a confession. Whatever they hear will get stored in their brain and it can knowingly or unknowingly tempt them to do such things,” she adds.
She says that there are a number of unreported instances where priests abuse women or girls in the name of confession.
“Nuns and priests go through the same procedure of studies to enter the clergy. Then why should nuns be denied the rights priests possess? Earlier it was a conservative society, but now things have changed. Then why can’t nuns also take up the responsibilities of priests?” Indulekha asks.
“For catholic women who believe, confession is important. But that doesn’t mean that they can be misused. They need an alternate option, and nuns should be conducting it,” Indulekha says.
The association is also fighting for nuns to have equal rights in the clergy.
“Why can’t nuns conduct the prayers and mass done by priests. Jesus was not anti-women, he was the one who forgave and blessed Magdalene Maria, who was a sinner,” she adds.
The association believes that it’s high time the clergy ended the age old patriarchal system, and that it has become a necessity since crimes are increasing inside the Church.