P.C. George, a Catholic legislator, was reprimanded by Kerala Legislative Assembly on Jan. 22 for indecent comments against a nun who accused a bishop of raping her. (Photo: madhyamam.com)
Kerala Legislative Assembly has reprimanded a Catholic legislator for insulting a Catholic nun after she accused a bishop of raping her.
Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan read out a statement on Jan. 22 saying P.C. George acted against a house member's dignity in his criticism of the nun.
George's criticism and comments "violated the house members' code of conduct" and lowered 'the dignity of the members," the speaker told the house.
The privileges and ethics committee of the house probed the complaint and recommended action against George. Following the recommendation and house rules, "this house is reprimanding" the member, the speaker said.
George responded in the house, saying that he "humbly accepted" the action.
He was reprimanded for comments he made in September 2018 while interacting with journalists. He went on to describe the nun and other nuns who supported her as "prostitutes."
His comments came after the nun complained to police in June 2018 that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar had raped her 13 times from 2014-16 while he visited her convent in Kerala's Kottayam district.
The nun is the former superior general of Missionaries of Jesus, an indigenous diocesan congregation. The case is under trial after a police investigation filed charges against the bishop.
George, a strong supporter of Bishop Mulakkal, also said the nuns were loose characters and cooked up the story at the behest of anti-Church elements that wanted to tarnish the Church's image.
Kerala Women's Commission filed a complaint against George, accusing him of "outraging the modesty" of women and urging the assembly to take action.
The house asked a panel of its privileges and ethics committee to study the issue. In its report submitted to the house on Jan. 20, the panel said the allegations against the legislator were serious.
The panel said a legislator is expected to maintain high stature in public life and support victims of rape and other violations. But George's conduct lowered the dignity of members and of the house.
Save our Sisters (SOS), a civil society group supporting the rape complainant, complained to the speaker about the legislator.
"We are happy with the finding of the assembly panel," said Riju Kanjookaran, coordinator of the SOS.
The nun had also complained to police about the legislator, but police took no action as he is protected by immunity as an elected member of the assembly.
"The state assembly has done the right thing, and we hope the legislator will understand his mistake and will not repeat it," Kanjookaran said.
"This is the second such instance in the history of the state assembly that a legislator has been found guilty by the prestigious privileges and ethics committee," said Father Dominic Patiala, a Capuchin priest based in Kerala.
"An elected lawmaker is supposed to speak the mind of his people. Those who voted for him should think twice before voting for him again," Father Pathiala told UCA News on Jan. 21.