Kerala nun who protested against rape-accused former bishop expelled
A Catholic nun in Kerala said on Wednesday she has been removed from her position by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) after she supported an agitation to arrest Franco Mullakkal, a former Jalandhar-based bishop accused of rape.
Sister Lucy Kalapura said the decision to expel her was taken two months ago and she was forced to sign papers by FCC authorities on Wednesday. She said most of the charges raised against her were baseless and that she was asked to vacate the convent immediately.
Sister Kalapura said she will move the court after consulting fellow nuns and others.
“I was victimised for speaking the truth. I will continue my fight. Many nuns are suffering silently. They will come out in coming days,” the nun said.
Two months ago, she had appeared before the Mother General of FCC congregation in Aluva of Ernakulam district to explain her position on the show-cause notices issued to her. She had also sought police protection to go to the congregation headquarters, saying her life was in danger.
The nun said she was issued four show-cause notices and that she replied to all and appeared before the superior general in person. She added she will remain a nun till her last.
Sister Kalapura said her struggle was not against the church but against some people who supported injustice and corrupt practices. She has also expressed her desire to meet Pope Francis.
“Some of the charges against me are quite frivolous. One of them is that I bought a car without informing the church and another that I appeared in a normal dress in a function,” she said.
She said the main grouse against her was that she openly supported the agitation Mullakkal.
A 43-year-old nun had filed a police complaint in June 2018, alleging Mullakkal had raped her in 2014 and continued to sexually assault her two more years. Later, she also released a seven-page letter she wrote to the Vatican ambassador in India narrating how her plight was overlooked by church authorities in Kerala.
When police failed to arrest the bishop, five of her fellow nuns staged a sit-in protest in Kochi. Many like Kalapura had joined the sit-in protest.
Later, a special investigation team formed to probe the case arrested Mullakal in September last year after several rounds of questioning.
There were many attempts to intimidate and transfer the five nuns, who stood in support of the victim. The victim and five nuns are now confined to their convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam. The trial against the deposed bishop started in Kottayam last month.
“Sister Lucy Kalapura was victimised for supporting us. It’s sad that church authorities are stifling saner voices,” Sister Anupama, also who led the stir against Mullakal, said.