Four Kerala nuns, who were transferred for allegedly campaigning against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of sexually assaulting a nun in the state, don’t need to move out of the convent where they are staying with the “survivor nun”, the church said as it revoked their transfer orders on Friday.
The order also cancels the warning letter or a summons to a fifth nun, reported ND TV. The letter by Jalandhar Diocese Administrator Bishop Agnelo states, “I am giving a directive to the General that she will not issue any letters to the five of you without my explicit permission… I like to assure the five of you that as far as lies within my power, there will be no move from the Diocese of Jalandhar to oust you from the convent as long as you are needed for the court case.”
The nuns in Kerala had received their transfer orders in March 2018 by the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation, months after they had complained at several forums within the church against the bishop. Reminders followed last month as the nuns had refused to accept the directives.
“We are relieved that at least now the church is waking up to our need. Our demand is simple – we should be left in peace, to live in the convent together , till we are fighting the case in the court”, one of the nuns told NDTV. The nuns announced the development during a protest organised by Save Our Sisters on Saturday in Kottayam as they demanded justice for the “survivor” nun. The nuns had earlier protested near Kerala High Court in September last year.
Save Our Sisters, an umbrella organisation of several ‘reformation organisations’ within churches, has demanded that Franco Mullakkal must be ‘defrocked’. “We are glad to see the letter the nuns received from Bishop Agnelo. It shows that there is someone with a heart in the church. There is someone who follows Christ,” the joint Convenor of SOS Shaiju Antony told NDTV.
“The catholic church is spending millions and holding an important meeting in Rome in February on the clerical sex abuse crisis and child protection, but why leave out abuse against women. We need strong laws within churches to deal with this too.” Dr Kochurani Abraham , a leading woman theologian told NDTV.
Bishop Mulakkal is accused of raping a nun on 14 occasions from 2014 to 2016, at the St Francis Mission Home in Kuruvilangad. Father Kuriakose Kattuthara — their colleague — was found dead at a church in Hoshiarpur’s Dasuya in October last year, months after he deposed against the bishop in the rape case.