Necessary Confessions: SC discover to Centre, Kerala govt and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church our bodies

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 14

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, Kerala Government and 11 Malankara Syrian Church bodies on a petition challenging the practice of mandatory confessions in the Church in the southern state.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued the notices after senior advocate Sanjay Parikh submitted that the top court had earlier restrained Kerala High Court from passing orders on issues related to this church.

Petitioner Mathew T Matgachan, Shaj PJ and Jose VJ — members of the Church — alleged that the practice was leading to several problems, including sexual exploitation of women and blackmailing of both men and women followers.

Under the religious practice followed by Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, its members are required to undergo ‘Sacramental Confession’ before a priest to relieve themselves of sin.

According to the practice, it’s a condition precedent for fulfilling the temporal and spiritual needs of being a Christian and one who doesn’t do that would be denied the benefit of such services from the church.

Under the garb of some rules and practice, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian

Church was forcing its members to ‘mandatorily confess’ and ‘mandatorily make payment of monies/dues’, failing which their names were being struck off from their parishes, they alleged.

The petitioners contended that the practice violated their right to privacy that was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in 2017.

They also challenged the practice of mandatory payment of money to the parish under the 1934 Constitution of the church as being violative of their right to religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.

Earlier, the Kerala High Court had in 2018 said the practice of ‘Sacramental Confession’ was a quintessential practice in Christianity.

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