India is in dire need of its own #ChurchToo and #MeToo movements, a well-respected pastor and human rights leader is urging as recent reports of clergy-related sexual abuse have rocked churches in the Kerala state in the past month.
Bishop Joseph D’Souza, president of the All India Christian Council, traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to attend a religious freedom roundtable hosted by Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
But since D’Souza’s trip comes as much media attention has surrounded two different cases of alleged sexual abuse by Indian clergy members from different denominational backgrounds, he spoke with The Christian Post Monday about how Indian Christians and churches should respond.
“It would be great to have the #ChurchToo movement in India because India probably needs it more than the West because the #MeToo movement in India is far more needed on several fronts,” he said, adding that India’s chauvinistic society has bred much male aggression against women and girls even inside the church.
As many women in the United States have come forward this year with allegations of being abused or molested at the hands of clergy members through the #ChurchToo movement, a similar trend has been happening in the south Asian state.
Last month, allegations emerged that a handful of priests with the Indian Orthodox Church in Kerala sexually abused a woman by using her confessions as blackmail to force her to have romantic encounters. The allegations led to the suspension of five priests, four of whom have been charged with rape.
On June 29, an unnamed Catholic nun complained to police that she had been raped in May 2014 by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar and sexually abused by him multiple times over the course of the next two years. However, Mulakkal has denied the claims and asserted that his “conscience is clear.” The bishop remains in office.
In July, another case was filed against Orthodox Church Priest Binu George, who was accused of sexuall assaulting a 39-year-old married woman when he called her to his office in the early part of 2014.
Over the last 18 months, as many as 12 priests from different churches in Kerala have reportedly been arrested on accusations of sexual abuse. D’Souza believes more women will come forward with their stories of being abused by church leaders.
“There will be other cases in India that will come out in this area,” he predicted. “We have to be very humble because we are Christians but we also have sin in our midst. When it is talked about, we don’t need to hide it.”
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Source: Christian Post