Orthodox Priests blackmail church women with sex over secret; suspended

Confessions are told to the priest with the belief that they will not be made public, and that only God, the mediator (i.e. the priest) and the confessor knows of the secret.

But what if the priest uses the secrets for his gains?

A Christian church in Kerala suspended five priests over allegations that they blackmailed and sexually exploited a married woman.

The suspension came after the woman’s husband, from Thiruvalla in Kottayam district, complained to the Malankara Orthodox Church. He alleged his wife’s confession to one of the priests, supposed to be kept a secret under church laws, was used to blackmail her.

A church spokesman confirmed the priests were suspended pending an inquiry but refused to divulge their names. Police are yet to file a case since no complaint has been filed against the accused. The church sources said three of the priests belong to Niranam Diocese in Thiruvalla and the two others were from Pandalam and Delhi.

An audio clip, in which the man narrates the plight of his wife, started circulating on social media a few days ago. In the clip, the man is heard saying that his wife was sexually abused by one of the priests before she got married. The said priest made some advances towards her even after her marriage, he alleged.

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He said during his daughter’s baptism, his wife confessed her ordeal to another priest. Instead of solving the problem, he too started abusing her, the Thiruvalla resident claimed. He said the second priest later passed on the information and shared her pictures to three of his fellow priests who also allegedly exploited her.

The video clip changed many hands within the clergy, the husband says during the conversation. The man, seething with anger over being betrayed by the very people meant to guide him spiritually, fears more priests are involved and his wife hadn’t possibly told him the full story fearing reprisals from the influential clergy. He wants the priests to be defrocked for blackmailing a believer using her confessional secrets, considered a sacrilege. 

A spokesman of the church later said some of the allegations were very old and a thorough inquiry was required to confirm their veracity. He also said the church will approach the police if the allegations had substance.

 The church’s working committee member and priests’ trustee Father M O John said the complaint did not deserve a police probe. “In the complaint, the husband said one priest had abused his wife 380 times. Then, what they were doing until the figure reached 380. That is why the husband was not keen to move a police complaint,” he said, adding there was no substance in the allegation that the woman was trapped during confession.

He said the woman had a relationship with one of the priests in her teenage years. Another priest had an affair with the woman when he had worked in her parish, while the woman had affair with the third priest during their college days, Fr John said.


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