Amen, the autobiography of a nun, Sister Jesme, 52, revealing the darker side of life in a convent, including exploitation of nuns by priests and clandestine same sex relations among nuns, is bound to push the powerful Catholic Church into another controversy.
Sister Jesme said she had quit the order as she could no longer bear the harassment at the hands of her superiors. She, however, said she continues to lead the life of a nun “outside the closed doors of a convent”.
Released two days ago, the book in Malayalam is selling like hot cakes.
“My attempt is to give a real picture of convent life, often shrouded in mystery and darkness,” Sister Jesme, now settled in Kozhikode, said.
She narrates how she was forced into a sexual relationship with a fellow nun and that her complaints to a superior were ignored.
Similarly, the former principal of a college run by the church recalls an encounter with a priest in Bangalore. “The priest embraced me and took me to his house. Breakfast over, he took me to Lalbagh (Botanical Garden) and showed me couples courting behind tall trees. He sermonised on the need for physical love and pointed out liaisons some bishops and priests were known to have.” Later when they were in his room, he stripped before her and asked her to do the same. She finally complied, she admits.
Said Father Paul Thelekkat, spokesman of Syro-Malabar Church, “We are not denying what she said. We are not in paradise either. But she has sensationalised it to get cheap publicity. We believe in democratic values, so we have no plan to call for a ban on the book.