Religious officials seek legal action against media defamation

Catholic officials in India are taking legal action against media who seem to be following a rising trend in defaming the Church, particularly priests and nuns.

Father Michael Pulickal of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council says the perceived increase in defamatory comments has seen priests and nuns lodge over 160 police complaints.

All the complaints have been against certain Kerala online, mainstream and social media platforms for portraying Catholic priests and nuns in a poor light.

Catholic religious men and women (pictured going about their work in Kerala) are no longer going to be mere spectators to the deliberate attempts to denigrate their image before the public by publishing lies, half-truths and misleading facts, he says.

However, Pulickal says in some cases Kerala police are refusing to register nuns’ and priests’ complaints.

The bishops’ council and other church bodies will “not succumb to pressure” and intend to continue their campaign for legal action against media until we get justice, he says.

As the government won’t take disciplinary action against media making defamatory comments, Pulickal says a plan of action has been decided.

This involves nuns and priests lodging as many complaints as possible until the authorities initiate action against those trying to destroy Catholic religious life.

Among the objectionable posts Pulickal mentions are those posted by photographer Yaami on social media.

Her pictures of women in Catholic nuns’ religious habits went viral. Asianet, a local news portal, quoted the Yaami saying:

“Two young women in nuns’ clothes hug warmly, walk together hand in hand, and laugh together. The issue is how people look at these photographs”.

Church officials complained the photos portrayed Catholic nuns as lesbians.

“We cannot tolerate this anymore. We want the government to act against those tarnishing our image as priests and nuns” Pulickal says.

Yaami has responded to his complaint, saying women do not cease to be women just because they live inside a nunnery.

She also noted she did not mean to denigrate Catholic religion or its systems.

“People looked at their clothes [habit], but I looked at the funny side of it” she says.

At the same time, Yaami asserts her right to take photographs according to her creative urges.


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News category: World.

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