No more church-investigating-church on sexual abuse complaints, demands petition

The News Minute

Sept. 23, 2019

By Sreedevi Jayarajan

In September 2018, five nuns from Kerala began a hunger strike to bring Franco Mulakkal – a powerful Catholic Bishop accused of rape – to justice. The protest sparked off a ‘Nuns Too’ movement and ended with the arrest of Bishop Franco. And ever since, there have been louder calls for better compliance from the Church to end sexual crimes by clergymen. Adding more traction to these demands, a Chennai-Goa based duo have now petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address sexual abuse, corruption and other crimes occurring within different denominations of the Christian faith in India. R Joseph Kennedy and Savio Rodrigues have kicked off a campaign named ‘Hail Mary’, to expose incidence of sexual crimes within the church and talk about the need for systemic change to end it.

“We want the government to initiate a dialogue amongst leaders of different Christian denominations in India to think of a solution. The idea is to think of a parish or church level body to empower victims of clergy abuse to disclose incidents. Maybe a committee comprising of members of the laity (believers) and government officials who will hear the complaints,” Savio tells TNM.

“I have personally known victims who have either chosen to stay silent or have been forced into silence as they did not want to or could not wage a battle against such a powerful institution. I feel it’s necessary to change this and make it easier for victims to be able to report incidents,” Joseph Kennedy tells TNM.

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