CNA Staff, Dec 15, 2020 / 18:01 pm
The Supreme Court of India agreed Monday to consider a petition that the requirement of annual confession in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church violates its members' privacy rights.
Three members of the Church, which is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, have petitioned the court after some of the Church's priests allegedly used information learned in the confessional for blackmailing and both sexual and monetary exploitation.
India's Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Dec. 14.
The petitioners called the Church’s requirement of confession a “serious intrusion into the privacy of a person.”
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church codified its constitution in 1934. That constitution requires that all Church members over 21 years go to Confession annually. It also requires that a confession register be kept in each parish.
The petitioners argue that the requirement of confession violates the protection of life and personal liberty and freedom of conscience and free profession found in articles 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India.
They also took issue with the Church’s ability to remove members from its registers for failure to support the Church financially.
Fr. Johns Abraham Konatt, a spokesman for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, said that “confession is one of the seven sacraments of the Church.
He told UCA News, "There might be a few instances of misuse of confession, but that does not mean that the sacrament should be done away with.”
The petition comes amid reports of some priests using the confessional to exploit women for sexual purposes, and men for monetary purposes.