As five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus continue their protest against Franco Mulakal, the bishop of Jalandhar, it is learnt that various Kerala Church authorities have sent directions to all major congregation superiors to issue internal circulars and assure that no other nun joins or expresses their support to the protest.
TNM accessed a circular issued by one of the prominent congregations in Kerala - the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC). In the circular signed by Sr Suby, the Superior General of the congregation, CMC asks the nuns not to participate in the protest against the Bishop.
It reads, "We all know that the issues that happened at Jalandhar diocese are making headlines in the media. We need to pray together for this issue. We, CMC sisters are not going to cooperate with anyone who tries to influence us with regard to this issue. CMC sisters have to be very careful not to talk for or against this issue or spread any messages via WhatsApp or participate in any protests. I expect everybody's cooperation in this case. May God bless you."
A senior priest, who is in solidarity with the protesting nuns, told TNM, "Many nuns and priests are ready to join the protest. But most of the congregations have already blocked it by issuing internal circulars."
Fr Augustine Vattoly, a senior priest from Ernakulam-Angamali archdiocese, said more nuns are expected to join the protest in the coming days. "They will be sharing the shocking experiences they have faced inside the convents. The circular issued by CMC leadership shows they expect a slavery system inside the convents. If anyone joins the protest, the entire system will be broken," he said.
Father Vattoly also spoke about how the system used nuns in an unfair manner.
"The CMC congregation provides only Rs 150 to a nun to manage their personal expenses every month. Earlier, it was Rs 82. And even this amount is handed over when they submit details of expense. The salary that they earn per month is supposed to be between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000. But this money goes to the congregation's account and the provincial of the congregation can use the money without restriction, " said Fr Vattoly.
The circular by CMC does not instil confidence that women in the church would be allowed to join the fight, another father said.
"I laud the Mother General for exhorting her nuns to pray; but devoid of the intention, nuns stand confused. Should they pray for the nun or for the Bishop?â€ť Fr Suresh Mathew, Editor of Indian Currents Weekly, Delhi, said.
"Would parents be happy to send or encourage their daughters to join the congregation next year, when they are told that the nuns have no freedom to express their support for a rape victim? Are they with the hare or with the hound?," asked Fr Suresh.