Vatican has rejected third appeal against eviction, says Kerala nun
Sister Lucy Kalappura, the Catholic nun who was expelled from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) in 2019 and who had spoken up against rape-accused bishop Franco Mulakkal, said on Monday that a canon court in Vatican has turned down her third appeal against her expulsion.
Kalappura, 55, said she received a fresh communiqué from the Vatican on Saturday in this regard following which the Mother Superior of the FCC, Sister Ann Joseph, sent a fresh notice to her to vacate her room in the convent, which she has continued to occupy after a local court in Wayanad stayed her eviction from there in 2019. Even the Kerala high court granted her protection that year.
“The letter is in Latin, but the covering letter spells out the decision. Details will be available only after the letter is translated fully. But it is dated 2020,” Kalappura said in a telephone call from Manathawady in Wayanad.
But it isn’t just the date that’s old — even the signature on it is from last year and there are signs that the original stamps on it were removed, the nun said, adding that it has created doubt in her mind about its veracity. “It seems the letter was fabricated to smoke me out of the convent. I fear it is part of a conspiracy by FCC superiors,” Kalappura alleged.
When contacted, a spokesperson of the FCC refused to comment on the issue.
According to an internal church communication, Apostalica Signatura, the apex judicial authority in the Catholic Church, rejected the nun’s third appeal against dismissing her from the century-old Congregation. “The appeal of Lucy Kalappura is rejected by Apostalica Signatura and the dismissal is confirmed,” a communication in the Congregation said.
A church spokesperson confirmed to PTI that the one more appeal filed by the nun had been rejected by Vatican.
But in the covering letter, Mother Superior Sister Ann Joseph said there was no legal remedy available to Sister Kalappura now to challenge her dismissal. “You have availed all three levels possible in the Catholic legal system. You no longer have the right and duty to wear the religious habit of the FCC hereafter and (have to) vacate the convent,” the letter read.
Kalappura said she will continue her fight against “corrupt practices” in the church and lamented things not reaching the Pope. “The recent revision of church laws regarding the abuse of minors, vulnerable adults, committing fraud or the ordaining of women gave us much hope. But it seems the papal head is not getting a clear picture,” the nun said, adding that she will continue her fight.
The Vatican had rejected her previous two pleas. During the hearing of a plea filed by her in a court in Wayanad last year, FCC authorities claimed “discipline of the convent was affected due to her continued presence”.
Kalappura was expelled by the church for “serious indiscipline and flouting orders of superiors” but the nun claimed that she was victimised for supporting the agitation for the arrest of the deposed bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mullakkal, who was accused of sexual assault by another nun in 2018. When his arrest was delayed, five nuns, all friends of the survivor, carried out a fast in Kochi demanding his arrest in which Kalappura had also participated.
Later, she wrote an autobiography, ‘Karthavinte Namathil’ (In the name of Christ), which ruffled many feathers in the church. In the book she alleged that sexual abuse and assaults take place in convents and seminaries frequently and cited many incidents. She also alleged that there were at least four attempts of sexual assault on her during her life as a nun.
Kalappura has previously run into trouble with the church for drawing her salary on her own (she was a high school teacher) and bought a car in her name. Catholic clergy are not allowed to own private property and their salaries go straight to church accounts.
Save our Sisters (SOS), a Christian reformist body formed in the wake of the protest against the bishop, has pledged support to Sister Kalappura. “We will extend legal aid to her. It is sad that the church authorities are taking revenge on her,” said SOS convenor Shyju Antony.
FCC is a Catholic order that traces its roots back to Saint Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
With PTI inputs