For Her Daughter’s Murder, a Mother Takes on ‘God’ and the Church
For three years now, Shanthi Roselin has been fighting an arduous battle against everything she held sacred – the Church and what it symbolises. On 23 July 2013, her 17-year-old daughter, Fathima Sophia, was found dead in the guest room of Father Arockiaraj, the priest of St Stanislaus Church in Palakkad district in Kerala.
Sophia’s father was physically impaired and Arockiaraj was reportedly like a father figure to her.
“Arockiaraj was like God to us,” says Roselin in an Indian Express report.
In the three years since Sophia’s death, a lot has transpired. Arockiaraj allegedly confessed to Roselin in a panicky phonecall; a ‘letter’ from Sophia’s belongings suggested a relationship between her and the Father, a secret canonical court at the Coimbatore Bishop House where Arockiaraj allegedly confessed to “using the girl.”
He has been booked for rape and sexual assault under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act.
The Church reportedly knew of the incident throughout, and took action against Arockiaraj “as per the canon law”. When asked why the sexual abuse of a minor wasn’t reported to the police, Fr John Joseph, Vicar General of the Coimbatore Diocese says:
The day Sophia was killed, Roselin and her husband were at a hospital in Coimbatore, where Roselin’s mother-in-law was admitted. Sophia and her younger brother were alone at home.
In the following weeks, Roselin said Arockiaraj called her several times to confess, saying it was an “accident” as he was trying to cover her mouth with a dupatta to silence her. They reportedly had a minor scuffle in his church room.
He reportedly also told Roselin that senior priests and Kerala police helped Arockiaraj cover up the death as a suicide, in an effort to protect the Church. This is an angle the police are currently probing, reported The Indian Express.
With the help of a relative who was a local journalist, Roselin carried out a sting operation, recording Arockiaraj’s confession on tape. The video was telecast on Zee Tamil, in the aftermath of which Roselin’s house was attacked, the Church organised protests in Coimbatore, and Roselin was excommunicated.
Arockiaraj was arrested six months after the telecast of the video. He denies the allegations saying Roselin is trying to extort money from the church. Despite his alleged confession in the canonical court, Arockiaraj also said he had never had sexual relations with Sophia.
For now, Roselin’s battle against the Church carries on.
Source: The Indian Express