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Dismissed Indian nun faces protest after memoir release

Sister Lucy Kalapura is accused of unfounded claims of clerical sexual violations as part of a slander campaign

ucanews reporter, Kochi

ucanews reporter, Kochi

Updated: December 06, 2019 10:58 AM GMT
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Dismissed Indian nun faces protest after memoir release

Parishioners of Karakkamala in Manathavady Diocese in Kerala protest on Nov. 4 outside a convent demanding that a dismissed nun, Sister Lucy Kalapura, go back to her home. The protest began after the nun published a book which protesters say tarnishes the image of the Catholic Church in the southern Indian state. (Photo supplied) 

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A protest has been held against a dismissed nun in Kerala after she published a memoir claiming that Catholic priests and nuns engage in sex indiscriminately in the southern Indian state.

Sister Lucy Kalapura's autobiography, titled Karthavinte Namathil (In the Name of the Lord), is the latest part of a smear campaign that began after her dismissal in August, protesters claim.

Hundreds of protesters marched with lit torches on Nov. 4 evening for three hours near her convent in northern Kerala. They shouted slogans demanding her to leave the convent and their parish in Manathawady Diocese.

Her Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) dismissed her on Aug. 5 following canonical norms and with the approval of the Vatican, citing indiscipline and disobedience. However, she continues to live in the convent awaiting a response to her appeal to the highest Vatican adjudication.

"Go back, Lissy, go back. We don't want you in our parish," marchers shouted at the gate of the FCC convent in their Karakkamala village parish.

The two-kilometer march continued for three hours. It passed through the nearby town as protesters shouted slogans that Sister Kalapura had insulted the Catholic community with her writing and interviews in the media.

The march came hours after Kerala High Court, the top court in the state, declined to ban Sister Kalapura from further publication and distribution of the book.

The court responded after hearing a petition from Sister Lisiya Joseph of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate congregation. Her appeal said the book was "a naked infringement on public order, decency and morality."

The court, however, said the petitioner could complain to the police and, if they did not act, move the district court.

The Kerala-based publisher of the book in the Malayalam language made limited copies available. The 250-page book is due to be officially launched on Dec. 10.

"I read the book; it is more self-praise of the nun herself. Indeed, she has also accused priests and nuns of sexual misconduct," said Father Manoj Kakkonal of Manathawady Diocese's media commission.

'Baseless allegations'

The book claims that some convents send young nuns to priests for their "pleasure as a matter of practice." They were made to pose nude for priests for hours. They wouldn't be permitted to leave even when they pleaded, Sister Kalapura wrote.

"But these allegations appear to be more heresy rather than facts. I wonder why she did not disclose the names of any of the predators," Father Kakkonal told ucanews. "No names, no mention of time and place. How can we take such allegations seriously?" he asked.

The nun also accused three priests of attempting to exploit her but did not name them.

"Such irresponsible statements will damage priests. Let her come out with the facts. The Church has systems to act on such violations if they are true," Father Kakkonal said.

Sister Kalapura has been "frequently making baseless allegations ever since she was dismissed," said protest coordinator Anjo Androos in Karakkamala parish. "We don't want such a nun who keeps abusing the Church in our parish." 

Soon after she was dismissed, Sister Kalapura claimed her congregation had acted against her because she had supported a public protest against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who was accused of raping a nun.

Five nuns of Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation that functioned under Bishop Mulakkal, protested in September 2018 near the High Court in Kochi. They demanded the arrest of the bishop for allegedly raping a former superior of their congregation.

The fortnight-long protest ended only after the bishop was arrested. He is now out on bail but faces court proceedings on rape charges.

Sister Kalapura told ucanews that the church leadership "sided with the accused bishop and ignored the pleas of the survivor." That was the immediate provocation to prepare the autobiography, the nun said.

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