Family of Kerala woman alleges she killed self after priest leaked her confession

Lilly George had written that a priest of Ayroor St John’s Salem Orthodox Church and the then Mahila Samajam Secretary were responsible for her death.
Family of Kerala woman alleges she killed self after priest leaked her confession
Family of Kerala woman alleges she killed self after priest leaked her confession
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 Three years ago, Lailamma George didn’t say anything. When the police called her to ask about her sister’s suicide in Pathanamthitta, Laila said she didn’t know why.  

But a few days ago when a news channel approached her, she spoke out. Her sister – poor Lilly – used to tell her everything. She just didn’t think it was so bad that Lilly would take her own life. 

Lilly’s suicide note from October 2015 says two people are responsible for her death – a priest and a woman. The priest of Ayroor St John’s Salem Orthodox Church who gave away her confession secret and the woman who repeated it to her in front of others were to be held accountable, Lilly had written.

 In 2015, Lilly’s husband Shinu’s friend Abraham George had approached the police saying the death warranted an investigation.

“The woman who knew Lilly’s confession secret was a Mahila Samajam secretary of those days, I won’t name anyone,” says Abraham George. He and Shinu, Lilly’s husband, both of whom held positions in the church, were banned for ten years. 

“It all began with an inscription on a grave that the priest wanted changed. It was the tomb of another senior priest on which his grandson had inscribed the words ‘Renovative Founder’ on. The priest, with the help of another, rubbed those words away. We insisted that the Thirumeni (Metropolitan) should also know this and told him about it,” says Shinu.  

The priest didn’t like that.  

“Before that, he used to be very fond of Shinu. He used to always appreciate his work. And when he visited their home, he was happy to notice Lilly was the foremost in serving the priests. The family held priests in high regard,” says Laila. 

Lilly got married to Shinu in 2004. She was very devoted to Shinu, Laila says. Even in her suicide note, she asks Shinu to marry again. 

So when the priest suddenly got angry at her husband following the tombstone incident, Lilly couldn’t bear it. Laila says that at a speech in the church, the priest said that if he revealed some secrets, certain families would be destroyed.  

Lilly felt disturbed and felt he could be talking about her.  

Her fears were confirmed when a few days later she heard her confession secret coming from the mouth of another. “There was some disagreement between her and the Mahila Samajam secretary and the woman just spilled out her secret in front of everyone there, just the way she had confessed it to the priest,” Laila says. 

“She had studied at the Kozhencheri College and naturally, there would have been some friendships. But knowing that the priest revealed her secret to this woman had troubled Lilly mentally. Poor girl, she took her life, and everyone was afraid to talk against a priest,” Abraham says.  

“I was not brave then. I have a family too. But now when the media came to ask me about it, I just opened up,” Laila says.  

Perhaps she got the courage on learning about two recent news pieces where priests were involved in the sexual assault of a woman and a nun. The Kerala Orthodox church  has been mired in a big scandal after a priest was charged for using a woman’s confession for sexual favours.

“But in Lilly’s case, there was no question of a sexual assault. I want to say this because someone asked after the channel news came out if Lilly was raped and is that why she committed suicide. No, it’s not. It’s because she felt threatened about the priest revealing her confession secret. Now, we want everyone to know the truth,” Laila says. 

The police probe had not led anywhere, the complainants say. Abraham may give yet another complaint and ask for a re-probe.

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