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Indian nun moves court against speech insulting pope

A criminal lawyer, Sister Manjula Tuscano filed the petition in Gujarat High Court after police failed to take action
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists seen here during a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad on Oct. 22, 2013. A Catholic nun in the western Indian state of Gujarat has filed a petition in the high court seeking action against a hate speech against the pope, Catholic priests and nuns, circulating on social media

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists seen here during a protest against Christian missionaries in Allahabad on Oct. 22, 2013. A Catholic nun in the western Indian state of Gujarat has filed a petition in the high court seeking action against a hate speech against the pope, Catholic priests and nuns, circulating on social media. (Photo: AFP/ UCAN files)

Published: April 17, 2023 10:23 AM GMT
Updated: April 17, 2023 11:13 AM GMT

A Catholic nun has petitioned a court in India seeking action against a man making derogatory statements against the pope and nuns in a video clip circulating on social media.

Sister Manjula Tuscano, a criminal lawyer, on April 13 moved the Gujarat High Court in western India through her attorney seeking to register a criminal case against the unidentified man seen making derogatory and defamatory statements in the local Gujarati language.

Tuscano decided to approach the High Court after her attempts to register a police complaint with the signatures of some 100 other nuns proved futile.

The nun alleged that the offensive speech makes sexually explicit references to the pope and nuns and calls on a crowd to not tolerate Christian priests and nuns in their midst.

The speaker, in Gujarati, says the pope is the husband of thousands of nuns the world over because, during their initiation ceremony, the nuns need to accept him so. Therefore, the pope is committing adultery, he adds. 

The stage and background from where the defamatory statements are made hint at an event of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council, which is often accused of attacking Christians in India.

Tuscano, a member of the Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary, told UCA News on April 17, that the petition was filed on April 13. But she refused to disclose the details.

“Now the matter is pending before the High Court,” she said while adding that it may come up for hearing next week.

Earlier on March 21, Archbishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Gandhinagar wrote to Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to take “immediate and stringent” action against the speaker, who is yet to be identified.

Macwan’s letter said the video clip circulating on social media contains “obnoxious, shameful and hurtful statements against the pope.”

The speaker, the prelate said, has "abused His Holiness with demeaning, uncouth and crass words. He has hurt the sentiments of 1.4 billion Catholics all over the world.”

The Christian community in Gujarat is feeling extremely insecure due to the ever-growing cases of attacks, violence, physical intimidation and vitriolic hate speeches, Macwan said in his letter to the chief minister.

The prelate, however, acknowledged the support the Christian community receives from ordinary Hindu members.

The video, according to Church leaders, is believed to be from a gathering at Kadi village, district Mehsana.

Christians make up 0.52 percent of more than 60 million people in the state whereas close to 90 percent are Hindus.

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