Sr Lucy’s mental torture by the church is intended to threaten one of the witnesses in the rape case as the trial is about to begin, says Riju, who is part of Save our Sisters forum.

How the church has alienated Sr Lucy who backed rape survivor in Bishop Franco caseSister Lucy Kalappura, PC/Kerala Catholic Sisters Association Facebook Page
news Church Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 16:11

Sister Lucy Kalappura has been waging a lonely fight. And she has met with the same fate as many others who spoke up.

Sister Lucy, a nun attached with the Franciscan Clarist Church, was expelled from the Church on August for a ‘life style not befitting the law of the Church’. The accusations against the nun have been many, from buying a car to publishing poems. It all began with Sister Lucy’s participation in the protest by five nuns who had taken to the streets seeking justice for another nun, who had been allegedly raped by Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The protest, something unprecedented in the history of any church perhaps in the country, happened in September 2018. Sister Lucy lives in Mananthavady convent of the church in Wayanad and is a teacher at Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School at Mananthavady.

On Monday, August 19, the 54-year old  nun was locked up in the convent and she had to seek the help of the police to open it to go to the school.

“It was on a Saturday (in September 2018) that Sister Lucy took part in the protest in Kochi and the very next day, the right to give Holy Communion was taken away from her besides being forbidden from taking Bible classes. The church had to take those directions back as the local people came in support of the nun. She had to buy a car, a second hand one, worth Rs 50,000 only when the church found fault in her traveling in another person’s car,” Riju Kanjoorakkan, who is part of Save Our Sisters (SoS) forum tells TNM.

SoS has been instrumental in backing the nuns who have been fighting for justice in the rape case in which Bishop Franco is the accused.

“Sister Lucy has been subjected to brutal alienation, mental torture… by this, what the church intends to give is a warning rather, to threaten sister Lissy Vadakkel, one of the witnesses in the rape case as the trial in the case will begin in a week. The church had tried to make Lissy Vadakkel a mentally unstable patient. The church’s actions are beyond the Kerala society’s consciousness to digest. They don’t take action against a rape accused, someone who swindles crores from the assets of the church. But we, the common devotees, stand with Sister Lucy. This is what the church gives in return, for the nuns who left home and everything else behind, at the age of 15 and dedicated their lives to the church,” Riju adds. 

Lissy Vadakkel

The action against Sister Lucy is a continuation of the age-old discrimination existing in the church, says Felix Pullodan, SoS convener and chairman of Advisory Board of Joint Christian Council. “The church has taken a stand to alienate the nuns. Now the church has been using this discrimination against women as a tool for personal vengeance. The voice against this has to be raised within the church itself, but most often it doesn’t happen. In the case of faith, people mostly have a slavish attitude — that of being submissive to the church,” he says. 

“As per the constitutional amendment by the Supreme Court in 2005, women can’t be thrown out of houses. But here, the state government is not giving protection to Sister Lucy in line with the amendment. The police has just acted on a complaint while she was confined,” he adds.

Sister Jesme who gave up nunhood after years’ long fight with the church says that what the church authorities need are puppets who obey them without showing the slightest of objection.

Sister Jesme tells TNM that the vows of nunhood are not meant to keep the nuns silent. “They want puppets who will obey even if they are asked to do something wrong. It’s not a Tuqhlaq era for the church laws to be interpreted by the authorities in whichever way they wish. Even the term discipline is outdated. People need not think in a uniform way, there should be diversity of thoughts. It’s far-fetched to confine nuns in the convent without making their voice heard outside. What the vows teach us is responsible obedience, not blind obedience,” she says.

Also Read: I’ll keep fighting, won’t leave the convent: Expelled nun Sister Lucy Kalappura to TNM


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