The veil of piousness and the act of uplifting the society are difficult jobs to maintain in today’s world. Churches in India have become adept at playing these roles in the country. This has not been restricted to certain parts of the country but it has happened throughout the length and breadth of the country. In the North-East, missionary organisations try to lure in tribal communities into joining the Church, the same goes on in states like Jharkhand. Any effort to counter the work of missionaries by locals is termed as an attack on the minorities. The same church and its missionary wings are in trouble all throughout the country today, in Jharkhand the exposing of child trafficking racket run by people belonging to Teresa founded Missionaries of Charity had silenced the church, allegations of unnatural sex and rape levied on bishops from Kerala and Jalandhar Archdiocese respectively have also shamed them.
Church however is not an institution which will go down without a fight, however dirty it might be. ‘India Currents’ magazine which is published under the patronage of the Capuchin of Krist Jyoti (Light of Christ) has tried to defend its bishops and priests in a bizarre manner by trying to portray the priest and the bishop as victims. In the shocking piece in the magazine titled ‘Villains as Victims’ they have also tried to discredit the women who had accused the church men. Quite ironically, the same edition of the ‘India Currents’ magazine has articles which talk about problems of women safety and how India is ranked unsafe for the female population. They however have tried to show that no servant of the church has ever done anything even remotely bad towards women, if at all something bad did happen then it was the lady’s fault.
The article begins with an anecdote about how the author AJ Philips had met the bishop in earlier days and how the bishop came off as a helpful guy. Then throughout the article the writer tries to give an angle of consensual sex to the allegations raised by the nun. He uses the word rape inside quotation marks as if he is challenging the whole premise of allegations raised by the women. The article has other nonsensical references like how the allegations of being raped 13 times were bad since 13 is a bad number.
The author also challenges that how could a woman continue to be raped time and again without reporting it to the authorities. He forgets that women both inside and outside the church are subjected to power dynamics which usually work against them. The females are also told time and again by social and religious figures to keep their mouth shut about the atrocities committed on them. These incidents happened inside the church, a married lady raped by church priests while a nun was being raped by the bishop repetitively, they surely had gotten enough moral discouragement to not speak up about the issue in public.
He ends the article by trying to label both the instances as ‘consensual sex’ and not rape. The author also hints towards ‘consumerism’ as the cause for the unfortunate events and blames all on women being presented as a commodity. It feels like the author really leaves no stone unturned to shield the accused, it reminds one of the ways in which when a minor was raped and impregnated by a priest in 2017 in Kerala, the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council had tried to brush it off as an ‘exception’.
The Church with all the tools at its disposal has set into damage control, they will try everything possible to shame the victims and shield the accused priests and bishops. They are doing what was expected of them, but why is the media silent on this issue, why are the political opposition silent? Is it because churches serve as a pool of votes, and nobody wants to offend them in India. Is it because they are all too powerful in Kerala and are hand in hand with the CPM? Such absurd articles in defence of rape accused explain the mindset of church authorities, they believe in conversion and conversion alone, there is no place for rights till you can convert.