By Anto Akkara
Thrissur, India, 6 May (ENI)--Churches in India are responding to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy around the world by considering their own guidelines to deal with the issue.
"Our message should be crystal clear, that churches will not tolerate anyone who is guilty," the Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, executive secretary of the National Council of Churches in India's commission for justice, peace and creation, told Ecumenical News International on 6 May.
The NCCI, which groups 30 Orthodox and Protestant churches, is taking to the June meeting of its executive committee, guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment that were set out in April at the general assembly in Kuala Lumpur of the Christian Conference of Asia.
The guidelines in the CCA assembly handbook call for "accountability and procedures" to deal with incidents of sexual abuse or harassment in churches.
"The churches should have clear guidelines on sexual abuse," said Rajkumar, speaking from the NCCI headquarters at Nagpur in central India.
In April, a Roman Catholic monk was arrested on a sodomy charge at an orphanage in central Madhya Pradesh state, while a priest in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is facing extradition to the United States over allegations of sexual abuse.
Earlier in 2009, a senior Orthodox priest in charge of running an orphanage in the Malappuram district of southern Kerala state was charged with the molestation and rape of two teenage sisters, one of whom subsequently committed suicide.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India has sent its own draft guidelines on dealing with sexual abuse to the Vatican for approval.
The Rev. Babu Joseph, the CBCI's spokesperson, told ENI that the guidelines are, "comprehensive and will have a strong deterrent effect".
The Indian Catholic bishops, he noted, have proposed reporting cases of sexual abuse to the police although the country's criminal laws do not make this mandatory.
The guidelines were discussed at a 26-28 April meeting of the CBCI's standing committee. [337 words]
[COURTESY TO ENI AS SOURCE]