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'Church is Stepmother to Women': Raped Kerala Nun Sends Scathing Letter to Vatican

In a powerful seven-page letter, the nun stated that “there are many sisters and women who are suffering silently without having the capacity to resist sexual abuse from people from whom they expect respect and care”.


Updated:September 11, 2018, 5:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Days after accusing Jalandhar Bishop James Franco Mulakkal of sexual abuse and rape, a nun from Kerala has now written a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio of India, Giambattista Diquattro who is an Ambassador to the Pope, in which she has highlighted her issues with the Church in handling her complaint.

In a powerful seven-page letter, which she had sent out on September 8, the nun stated that “there are many sisters and women who are suffering silently without having the capacity to resist sexual abuse from people from whom they expect respect and care”.

Detailing her difficulties, she wrote that everybody she reached out to for help, including the Pope himself, turned a blind eye and refused to take any action against the rape-accused Bishop. “From childhood, we have been taught to believe that the Church is our mother. But in light of my experience, I am beginning to think that the Church is a stepmother to women and laity,” she wrote.

She further alleged that she was not the only victim and that there were many others. “There are many sisters and women who are suffering silently without having the capacity to resist sexual abuse from people from whom they expect respect and care. I feel this kind of silence on the part of the Church authorities and protection of those who commit the crime may create a situation where the Church loses its credibility before society. It will have a very adverse effect on women in the Indian Church that they have no other option than to react in a manner that safeguards their dignity as human persons even at the cost of losing their catholic faith,” she wrote. She has accused the Bishop of taking advantage of other sisters as well.

Further, she wrote that the rape-accused Bishop ensured that the work environment was not conducive for her to put forth a strong fight. “Though Bishop Franco had sexually abused me several times, I could not reveal to my Superior General or to her Councilors the full story. I only told them repeatedly that Bishop is taking many disciplinary actions through them just because I resisted to lie down with him. As they failed to understand even the seriousness of these words, I could not tell them more than this. And I had the fear that Bishop Franco may harm me with the support of my superiors. The loss of vocations from the Missionaries of Jesus during the last five years (20 sisters have left) prove that the congregational leadership has no solution for the problems faced by the sisters,” the letter stated.

“I am concerned that priests and bishops are allowed to spend nights in convents even when they have other facilities like parish houses, pastoral centers and the like…Will the Church authority -who stand to protect Bishop Franco and safeguard the dignity of the Church by hiding his wickedness- be able to give back what I have lost? I feel the Catholic Church is still doubting my truth over the argument as to why I allowed him to abuse me sexually ‘thirteen times’. I had tremendous fear and shame to bring this out into the open. I feared suppression of the congregation and threats to my family members. At the same time I wonder why the Church is closing its eyes towards the truth when I have mustered courage to stop him,” she wrote.

The accused Bishop, however, in an interview to CNN News18 said that the whole episode was a conspiracy to defame the Church. “This is a tactic to pressurise the government. This is a conspiracy by those groups who have been against the Church since the beginning,” said Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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