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The Church must come clean

The Church must come clean
Highlights

It was recently revealed that four per cent of all active clergy in Germany commit or have committed sexual abuse according to a study The study pointed out several thousand individual acts of abuse which is nothing but harrowing

It was recently revealed that four per cent of all active clergy in Germany commit or have committed sexual abuse according to a study. The study pointed out several thousand individual acts of abuse which is nothing but harrowing.

However, there is a resounding silence on the escalation within the Catholic Church in the United States on the same topic. However, this study in Germany only focused on dioceses' archives and so they were only looking at diocesan priests. Of late the Pope is being flooded with complaints of sexual abuse and outrage of modesty by the priests of various orders and perhaps he is the most worried man.

Back home we are no different. However, what is different here is the politics surrounding such black deeds. A Hindu priest, baba or guru, too get arrested and face jail in this country. There are several instances when fake babas (fake because of the crime too) are sent to jails. So, what is wrong if someone in the Church is sent to jail? Oh no! That is persecution by the right- wing government!

Shame on this country which treats rapes too with religious colour. Women are getting bolder and questioning persecution worldwide. It is a " MeToo" moment. What is wrong with it? The debate and abuse of the power structures in the Church must continue, just as it is being demanded of with Hindu structures. It is expected of the Church to be honest, which includes 'zero tolerance' policy, which the bishops and Pope Francis have repeatedly emphasised. This may be tough for the bishops, because everyone will know some of the perpetrators.

But "zero tolerance" means just that, anything else would be another round of betrayal for the victims and, ultimately, the clergy themselves. The Vatican recently announced that Pope Francis has invited the heads of the world's 80 Bishops Conference for a meeting in February 2019. Perhaps it's a coincidence that the announcement came on the same day the findings of the German Bishops' Conference study were leaked. Either way, one should not be deceived: abuse by the clergy happened not only in the US and Germany, but also in Poland and Italy, in Africa, Asia and Australia.

And in India too. Anything else is wishful thinking. It can endanger the Catholic Church to the core. It also endangers the ability of Churches in the US and Germany, which are the richest, to provide aid worldwide. The need to discuss change is becoming more evident. Perhaps the days of a Church dominated by priests, by men, will be over, sooner or later.

Frightened by the thought, some people might now say, "No!" But honestly, who will still trust the Catholic Church without a fundamental change? It is a shame that Kerala Church body comes out in support of the accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The women's body of the State and an MLA too lent voice to the same earlier. Everyone would like to point a finger towards Delhi and blame Narendra Modi government. Entire Opposition seems to be resting on conspiracy theories. What a tragedy it is, indeed!

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