After Kerala Bishop’s body wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the recommendation by the National Commission for Women to ban confessions in churches, the National Commission for Minorities has strongly opposed the same.
According to the National Commission for Minorities, confessions in churches are an integral part of Christianity and cannot be interfered with. NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi told PTI, “The minority commission outrightly rejects the recommendation and is opposed to it.”
The assertions by the NCM came after the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference on Friday severely criticised the proposal of the NCW and appealed Prime Minister Modi to reject the same.
In their letter to the PM, the priests suspected a 'hidden agenda' by NCW chief Rekha Sharma and asked her to withdraw her statement.
“We have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to reject the panel’s recommendations. This is the question of the existence of the minorities. On what basis has the panel made such a suggestion? What is its motive behind such an act?” Father Varghese Vallikkatt, the spokesperson for the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference, said.
NCW chief Rekha Sharma had recommended abolition of the practice of "confessions" in churches, saying that it can lead to blackmailing of women. Sharma also pressed for a central agency to investigate the incidents of rape and sexual assault in the churches of Kerala.
"The priests pressure women into telling their secrets and we have one such case in front of us, there must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg," she said.
The recommendation by the NCW was made in the backdrop of a rape case against four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who were accused of sexually exploiting a married woman by using her confession made before a clergyman.
Reacting to it, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam also "outrightly rejected" the NCW's recommendation. A Kerala native and a Christian, Alphons insisted that the Modi government would never interfere in religious beliefs of people.
"It is not the official stand of the government. The Union Government has no connection with the stand taken by the NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma. It is a personal opinion of Rekha Sharma," Kannanthanam, Union Minister of State for Tourism, wrote in a Facebook post.
"The Narendra Modi government would never interfere in religious beliefs," he added.
(With agency inputs)