I far too often report on Catholic priests who get away with molesting children, but I’m happy to say that this time, they got exactly what they deserved. A Catholic priest from Kerala, India, was sentenced to a double-life sentence after being convicted of molestation of a minor.
Father Edwin Figarez, 41, was found guilty of repeatedly molesting a young girl while at a local church, part of the Kottappuram Catholic diocese. The 14-year old girl finally told her mother what was going on and her mother reported the crime to the police. Figarez went on the run, being helped by his brother, Sylvester Figarez, to evade capture. The brother was also arrested and given a one year sentence for aiding a fugitive. Also charged was Doctor Ajitha, belonging to Puthenvelikkara Primary Health Center, for failing to report the crime to authorities, although the doctor will serve no jail time.
According to authorities, Figarez would call the girl to his quarters, under the guise of counseling her, and had molested her on many occasions, starting around January 2015. This went on for nearly 2 years, until he was arrested and charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offense (Pocso) provisions, which were passed in 2012. It sounds just like something devised to protect minors from Catholic priests.
This is exactly the kind of thing that I talk about all the time, a crime that simply would not have happened were religion not involved. Catholicism, indeed a lot of religion, gives these men unfettered access to innocent children who are trained that these are men of God and hence to be trusted implicitly. There aren’t a lot of places these days where single men could take young girls into their bedrooms privately without anyone batting an eye, but in religious circles, this is still very common. It’s lucky that this girl’s mother believed her, I think there’s a general skepticism that holy men of the cloth would ever do that kind of thing, although with the number of cases we see, that skepticism certainly shouldn’t exist. It is religion and the beliefs surrounding religion that allow these abuses to take place. It is highly unlikely that they would happen at all without religion being involved.
But what can you expect when it comes to Catholicism? That’s why they feature so prominently on Horror Show Sunday and why the cases of Catholic sexual abuse continue to flood in. Religion gets a pass far too often and when it does, the innocent are often harmed.