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India’s Christians upset by calls to abolish confession

NEW DEHLI (Agencies): “This demand is absurd and it displays ignorance about the sacrament of confession,” said Oswald Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, reacting to a proposal by the National Commission for Women, an Indian federal agency, to abolish the sacrament of confession CNS reported.
The commission’s chairperson, commission chairwoman, Rekha Sharma, put forward the proposal on the grounds that priests misuse it to target and blackmail women, according to a UCAN report on July 27.
“The tenor of the demand shows they do not understand the meaning (of the sacrament of confession) nor do they have respect for religious freedom,” the cardinal said on July 26.
The call came after five Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priests in Kerala state were suspended from ministry, including at least two who had sex with a married woman CNS reported.
Two of the cases are currently already under police investigation. 
“It is none of their business to interfere with the religious matters of Christians,” UCAN reported Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary general of the bishops’ conference, as saying.
The Kerala Bishops’ Council called the proposal “an attack on the Christian faith and spiritual practice.” 
The council said, “We strongly feel that the recommendation is unwarranted… We suspect communal and political motives behind this unconstitutional interference into the internal spiritual affairs of the Church.”
India’s Christian leaders have been complaining that since the prime minister, Narendra Modi, came to power with the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014, violence and harassment of Christians has increased. 

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