Thiruvalla, July 12: Father Job Mathew, the 40-year-old priest who has been allegedly sexually exploiting the victim over her 'confession, since 2009, has surrendered before the deputy superintendent of police (Dy SP), Kollam on Thursday. The "Father" was threatening to 'misuse the confession' to his victim.
He is not alone, three other Fathers Fr Abraham Varghese, Fr Johnson Mathew and Fr Jaise George are involved in the unholy act. The case has been registered against four priests. They have been booked on the charges of rape and molestation.
Notably, the sacramental seal is inviolable.
Canon 983.1 of the Code of Canon Law, says, "It is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason”.
A priest, therefore, cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity.
In this particular case, the woman had made a confession about her affair before marriage to one of the priests, who then used it to blackmail her into bed. A man from Thiruvalla had alleged that five priests had been sexually abusing his wife for several years. This person who is husband of the victim discovered a five-star hotel bill in her mailbox. When he asked her about this, his wife revealed to him the ordeal she had been undergoing for years. According to a much circulated audio clip, rape incidents began after the confession made during their daughter’s baptism.
As usual, the church has not taken any action against the priests and have only relieved the accused priests from their official duties and sent them on leave. Church spokesperson PC Elias had said that thorough investigations were required to ascertain the authenticity of the complaint as some of the allegations were very old. Church managing committee chairman Father Mathew Abraham said that in the past the complainant has tried to assault a priest, “Once he created a scene in his parish committee meeting and tried to assault a priest. Other members of the parish had condemned his action and isolated him from the community. He may be trying to take revenge by raising baseless allegations against the priests.”
Importantly, Malankara Orthodox church is Kerala’s most ancient church. One can easily figure out the tradtion of the Prosts and Padres.
Now, the surrendered rapist Priest Job Mathew will be taken for medical examination post interrogation. Also, the two other priests who were denied anticipatory bail are currently absconding and according to reports they may approach the Supreme Court.The whole episode has put a big questionmark on the system of Confessions and its relvance and trustworthyness. No one can deny that the 'Thiruvalla' incidance is a an isolated and rare one... this is the only which has got voice...there might be thousands buried under the suppression and threats by the Holy Priests!