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Kerala nun who supported stir against ex-bishop asked to leave congregation

Sister Lucy Kalapura, who supported the protest for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakkal on sexual assault allegations, has been asked to leave the vocation immediately by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) or be defrocked.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2019 10:17 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala,nun,bishop
Sister Lucy Kalapura, who supported the protest for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakkal on sexual assault allegations, has been asked to leave the vocation immediately by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) or be defrocked. (Vivek Nair / Hindustan Times)

Sister Lucy Kalapura, who supported the protest for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakkal on sexual assault allegations, has been asked to leave the vocation immediately by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) or be defrocked.

The nun however has challenged the congregation to expel her, saying most of the charges raised against her were baseless.

Two day back, she had appeared before the Mother General of FCC congregation in Aluva in Ernakulam district to explain her position. She had sought police protection to go to the congregation HQ, fearing threat to life.

“You have consciously and willfully violated the vow of poverty repeatedly. You uploaded a photo of yours in lay dress on Facebook and tried to justify your action by criticising the FCC religious habits in your channel discussions. You also bought a car in your name. I should remind you that you must petition the indult to leave the FCC,” said the letter signed by superior general of FCC Sister Ann Joseph.

“Since you are a perpetually professed member of the FCC and through your profession of your religious vows, you voluntarily renounce your right to freely administer money, your freedom to wear any dress of your choice, your freedom to bring anyone to your bedroom and spend night with anyone of your choice, your freedom to travel anywhere at any time, your freedom to participate in any channel discussion and your freedom to publish any books or articles etc,” said exhaustive 17-page letter.

Sister Kalapura said she was issued four show-cause notices and she replied to all and appeared before the superior general in person.

“I denied all charges. I will not go on my own. Let them expel me,” she said, adding she will remain as a nun till her last.

She said her fight was not against the church but against some people who support unjust and corrupt practices. She has also expressed her desire to meet Pope Francis.

The Franciscan Clarist Congregation declined to speak, saying it was an internal matter of the congregation. But it confirmed a fresh letter was dispatched to Sister Lucy Kalapura on March 12.

Last June, a 43-year-old nun had filed a complaint alleging that bishop Franco Mullakkal had sexually assaulted after summoning her on the pretext of discussing an important issue in 2014 and it continued for two years. Later, she also released a 7-page letter she wrote to the Vatican Ambassador in India narrating how her plight was overlooked by church authorities.

When police failed to arrest the bishop, five fellow nuns staged a sit-in protest in Kochi. Many like sister Kalapura had joined the dharna. Later a special investigation team was floated and it arrested Mullakal in September after several rounds of questioning. After spending three weeks in judicial custody he later secured bail. There were many attempts to intimidate and transfer the five nuns who stood by the victim. The victim and five nuns are now confined to their convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam.

Two weeks back, police had registered a case against a convent in Muvattupuzha (Ernakulam) after another nun, a key witness in the sexual assault case, complained that she was illegally confined and tortured for deposing against Mullakal. Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who was another witness in the case, was found dead in his room in Jalandhar under mysterious circumstances last year.

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 16:22 IST