Kottayam: The Malankara Orthodox Church has suspended five priests following a man’s complaint that his wife has been subjected to serial sexual abuse by the clergy by exploiting her confessional secrets. The husband, hailing from Pathanamthitta, is yet to file a police compliant. The woman is a mother of two. Church spokesperson P. C. Elias told DC that all five priests have been divested of their responsibilities pending inquiry. Three priests belong to Niranam diocese, one Thumpamon diocese and another from the diocese of Delhi.
Metropolitans in respective dioceses have been assigned to distribute parish responsibilities among other priests. "We got a complaint from the woman's husband but we have no idea about the truth of the allegations. An internal inquiry will be conducted and based on its outcome, the Church would decide whether to restore responsibilities to the priests or take further action, if the allegations are found to have substance”, Mr Elias said. What triggered the suspensions has been an audio clip circulating in social media, allegedly containing the telephonic conversation between the husband and his friend.
The husband, who swears by his fidelity and commitment to the church, says details of a five star hotel bill in his wife’s mail box blew the lid off the scandal. The man confides during the conversation that a priest had coerced her into an abusive relationship and the history of abuse predated their marriage. Overcome with guilt, the woman confessed to another priest before her child’s baptism. The confessor also turned predator and shared her pictures with another priest, who also took advantage of her plight.
The video clip changed many hands within the clergy, the husband says during the conversation. The man, seething with anger over being betrayed by the very people meant to guide him spiritually, fears more priests are involved and his wife hadn’t possibly told him the full story fearing reprisals from the influential clergy. He wants the priests to be defrocked for blackmailing a believer using her confessional secrets, considered a sacrilege.