(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Those who blindly believe that “Religions, Religious Heads” not only preach very high moral values and uphold them in practice are living in a ‘make believe’ and foolish world. For ages, sexual abuses, drugs and other criminal activities have festered all religions alike.
Following political leaders entry and their treacherous ‘no-holds barred’ politics, expectations of many victims and people who campaign on their behalf, waging grim struggles to restore sanity among all religions appears a mirage. Such a perception of realities may appear skeptical to blind followers; but to those with knowledge of happenings both behind-the-doors and outside, they represent the deep crisis tormenting all religions. For example, the recent crackdown of “brothels’ in “Yadadri” exposes the bitter reality of murky happenings under the Gods atop the Hill in Telangana.
Ipso facto, the visual media channels tirade demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese for raping a “46-year old Nun” over a period of two years starting in May 2014 covering the protests of a group of Catholic nuns in Kochi followed by Thiruvananthapuram (Capital), Kerala, is gathering momentum and exposing the realities under and behind the “sanctum sanctorums”.
Ipso facto, the news has hit the headlines in the Western media like Guardian and New York Times.
PC George, an independent MLA, famed for making controversial statements in the past, has provoked and ‘added fuel to the fire” of nuns protests by making statement in a press conference “why the nun had taken more than two years to raise the complaint. No one has a doubt that the nun is a prostitute. Why didn’t she complain the first time?”
Sister Anupama and her group of nuns who have broken ranks with the Church, stated that “It was the church which forced us onto the street by not giving us justice.” In the past too, former nuns had raised allegations of sexual exploitation by priests and other male clergy in the state’s church but the latest case has resulted in widespread publicity and concern. Indian Catholic sisters have broken ranks with the church by openly protesting in the streets of the Keralan state capital against a bishop accused of raping a nun.
George Joseph, the president of the Joint Christian Council, one of the groups organising the protests, accused senior politicians and church leaders of interfering in the case. “It is the 76th day since the petition was filed and still police have not taken a major step in the investigation,” he said. “Police are interrogating the petitioner, not the accused, and we believe they are under pressure from political parties and the church.”
The National Commission for Women, a statutory body that promotes women’s rights, called his remarks shameful and demanded a police investigation. As yet, no one is demanding CBI or SIT investigation under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court.
Its fallout is quite adverse exposing the divide in Kerala’s Roman Catholic church with over 1 million followers.
In retrospect, none of the religious heads can lay claims to “Holier than Thou” status. Many saints like Rampal, Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati and his junior Vijayendra, Yoga guru Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of global Satyananda movement, Chandraswami of 1970s among many others have criminal records against them.
In the recent past, there were few high profile cases widely reported in the media to include: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, Head of the Dera Sacha Sauda, (Many avatars like as actor, director, writer, songwriter, etc.); Asaram Bapu (over 400 ashrams in India);.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and Asaram Bapu were found guilty of rape and sentenced to serve 20 years and life imprisonment respectively. Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction led to widespread violence from members of the DSS, which left 31-38 DSS members dead from clashes with police and another 120–300 injured.
Most important but least highlighted in the Indian visual media pertains to high profile western coverage of admission from Germany’s Catholic Church to “at least” 3,766 cases of child sex abuse by the clergy between 1946 and 2014. The report — commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference and conducted by the Universities of Giessen, Heidelberg and Mannheim — has taken four years to assemble and will be released in full on September 25.
According to German publications Die Zeit and Spiegel Online, who have seen a leaked copy, the victims were mostly boys, more than half of whom were aged 13 or younger. Every sixth case involved a rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved, the report also reveals.
Following the reports from different corners of the globe concerning sexual abuses crisis and explosive accusations of cover up that are undermining the credibility of the entire Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has summoned more than 100 bishops from around the world to Rome for an unprecedented meeting focused on protecting minors, the Vatican announced on 12 September 2018.
In fact, there were high hopes after the election of Francis in 2013 that he would tackle the abuse problem systemically, and hold accountable bishops who covered it up. And at first, abuse survivors were encouraged when Francis appeared to act on a proposal by his special commission on sexual abuse to create a tribunal to discipline bishops who covered it up. But when it met resistence in the Vatican, the pope dispensed with it.
In reality, the crisis in Roman Catholic Church is a universal phenomenon. When the scandal first surfaced in the United States in the mid-1980s, Vatican officials called it an American phenomenon, church historians say. When it spread to Canada, Ireland, England and Australia, they framed it as a problem of the church in the English-speaking countries.
Then, when the scandal erupted in Germany, Belgium, France and Austria around 2010 during the papacy of Benedict XVI, the Vatican termed it a problem of the developed world, born of sexual libertinism. Now, with cases reported in Chile, Philippines and India, the Vatican is being forced to treat the sex abuse problem as a global crisis, and not the failing of a particular country or culture.
Reports of misconduct IN USA, led to resignation of Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., as cardinal. His successor in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, recently revealed that he planned to talk in Rome with Francis “in the very near future” about the possibility of the pope accepting the resignation that he tendered three years ago, as required, upon turning 75. Cardinal Wuerl, formerly the archbishop of Pittsburgh, has faced withering criticism since the release last month of a grand jury report saying that more than 1,000 children had been victimized over decades in Pennsylvania, and that church leaders had covered it up.
There is an intense ideological war brewing inside the Vatican. Archbishop Viganò has called for Francis’ resignation for inaction on the issue of American’s practice of inviting seminarians into his bed since 2000. Neither Francis nor Pope Benedict, who is retired, has responded to the letter. But Francis suggested that the accusations against him and others in the Viganò letters were the devil’s work.
The Catholic Church crisis should show the way ahead for all other religions to follow suit on sexual abuses, drugs, corruption and other criminal activities. In fact, the Indian Hindu Religion Seminar must be held earliest to address the issue to identify and formulate a “high moral code” for its Head Priests, Sants, Babas and other Gurus in circulation.