Kerala church becomes a condominium for sinners, with another priest being held for rape

Father Johnson V Mathew, a priest of Malankara Orthodox church accused in the rape and sexual abuse of a married woman belonging to the fold was arrested by a crime branch team on Friday. Fr Johnson, hailing from Kozhencherry, the third accused in the case was arrested from his home at 2 pm.

In June this year, five priests of an orthodox church in Kerala had been accused of sexual abuse and blackmailing, by a married woman in Kerala. As per the victim’s husband, his wife was abused by the priests for a whopping 380 times. As per the husband, she was sexually abused by one of the priests before they got married, and even kept making advances following their wedding. Following this serious allegation, an inquiry panel had been formed to look into the complaint against the five priests, from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who has been working under the administration of the Kottayam church.

After this news gained momentum, on 2nd July, four out of the five priests were booked for rape and molestation of this married women. Later it was reported that one out of the three accused surrendered before the Kerala police.

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Fr Johnson after being questioned for around three hours was presented before the Thiruvalla magistrate and was remanded for 14 days in judicial custody. He faces charges under section 354 of IPC (molestation), unlike the other three accused who were slapped with section 376 (rape) along with section 354.

The remaining two accused Fr Abraham Varghese (Sony) and Fr Jaise K George, who are absconding are reportedly planning to approach the Supreme Court seeking an anticipatory bail, after the Kerala High court took a strong note of the accusations of rapes by the priests of the Christian church, decided not to grant any interim protection to the two Christian godmen who are booked for the sexual assault.

It is rather appalling that though these kinds of heinous crimes are been given shelter in the church and enough shreds of evidence have emerged, the church is all out defending the accused. The weekly magazine Indian Currents, owned by the Catholic church, openly supports the rape accused Bishop Franko Mulakkal and the priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church against whom allegations of rape and abuse were filed recently.

Though the Catholic churches are leaving no stone unturned in trying and defending the priest involved in this beastly act, Savio Rodrigues, a former senior Congress leader from Goa, who resigned after the Goa election debauchery, known for his extremely forthcoming views, took to Goa Chronicles, a publication he owns, to question whether Church is above the law of the land.

He went on to write with extreme disgust throwing some light on the reprehensible situation surrounding globally, ‘The Church has been in recent past has been known to cover-up its heinous crimes of sexual abuses by priests on children and not report the matter to local police authorities – this is a global phenomenon. It appears to be a similar precedent being followed in India. The audacity of the Church to not report the matter to the local police authorities raises serious questions on whether Indian laws are applicable to the crimes committed by the leaders of the Church.’

With the Church finding itself bang in the middle of accusations of blackmail, gangrape and selling babies one wonders how the so-called godmen get away with these kinds of heinous crimes considering the ones which appear are just a few amongst the many. How much more sexual crime lies unreported and unpunished in poorer regions of the world is anyone’s guess.

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