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ICC Note: The Kerala High Court has dismissed a petition that would declare the Christian sacrament of confession unconstitutional. The sacrament came under scrutiny following a sex abuse scandal where two priest used their position to abuse a woman. Radicals in India seized on the scandal and attempted to use it to shrink Christians’ religious freedom rights.

08/04/2018 India ( – The Kerala High Court today dismissed a petition for declaring sacramental confession among Christians unconstitutional, noting whether or not to confess one’s sin was an individual’s right.

A division bench of the court comprising Acting Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar said nobody was compelled to follow the custom.

The court said people living in a secular state have the right to choose their religious faith, and if someone does not want to follow a religion, he has every right to leave it.

“Whether to confess or not is an individual’s right. No one is compelled to follow the custom. In a secular state, one has the right to live without a religion also,” the court observed.

C S Chacko, the petitioner, had submitted that imposing “implied or expressed compulsion” on a member of a church to confess a sin before a priest infringed the Right to Privacy.

The respondent churches, including the Latin Catholic Church, the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, the Syro Malankara Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church were “deliberately” violating the rights of people by following the practice, he said in the petition.

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