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Police ordered to protect dismissed Indian nun

Sister Lucy Kalapura claims threats have been made to her life by members of her congregation

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Police ordered to protect dismissed Indian nun

The Vatican's Supreme Tribunal has rejected Sister Lucy Kalapura's appeal, but she has refused to move out of her convent and claims threats have been made against her life. (Photo: IANS)

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The State High Court in Kerala has directed police to protect a dismissed Catholic nun after she claimed to have received threats to her life from her superiors and some priests.

The top court in the southern Indian state on July 9 ordered authorities to “ensure that the law and order is maintained and if necessary, to afford adequate protection to the life and property of the petitioner.”

The petitioner Sister Lucy Kalapura, was dismissed from her Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) on Aug. 5, 2019, citing disobedience and breaking religious vows of poverty.

However, the congregation gave her the canonical opportunity to appeal to the Vatican and continue in the convent in Mananthavady diocese in Kerala.

The court has also served notices on all the respondents seeking their reply within 10-days ahead of a full hearing to be held at a later date.

Among those included in the petition were the Superior General of the congregation Sister Ann Joseph, superior of her convent Sister Ligi Maria, Father Noble Thomas, the public relations officer of Mananthavady diocese and Father Stephan Kottackal, a parish priest in the same diocese.

Sister Kalappura’s complaint said the priests and nuns listed as respondents along with a group of local people had threatened to eliminate her and “illegally assembled with fire torches in front of the convent [where she lives] and openly declared they will do away with the petitioner.”

She also gave details about confrontations with her superiors in the congregation that finally led to her dismissal and her pending appeal before the Segnatura Apostolica, the highest appellate authority in the Vatican.

The nun maintains that her convent began to act against her after she backed the public protests of five nuns in September 2018 seeking the arrest of a bishop accused of raping a nun.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar in the northern Indian state of Punjab was arrested on Sept. 21 last year following fortnight-long public protests and faces court proceedings on rape charges.

Bishop Mulakkal is accused of raping the former Superior General of Missionaries of Jesus, an indigenous diocesan congregation under his patronage, between 2014-16 multiple times.

The prelate had denied the allegation and called it a personal vendetta.

The FCC claims that Kalapura’s case has no links with the bishop's case. For the past several years, the nun has been defiantly disobeying her superiors and the rules of the congregation, neglecting warnings and opportunities to correct herself, it said.

“She is not a member of the FCC and she is an illegal occupant in the convent,” noted a nun who did not want to be identified.

“If she is feeling so threatened, let her move to a safe location rather than insisting on staying in the convent from which she was already dismissed,” the nun told UCA News on July 12.

“We have not got any official communication from the court regarding her security issue. We will look into it once we get a communication from the court. We will also become party to the proceedings once we receive the notice,” the nun said.

Father Manoj Kakkonal, the public relations officer of Mananthavady diocese said Kalapura “is making false and fabricated allegations against priests and nuns.”

The priest told UCA News on July 13 that diocese has not received any legal communication from the court and had only heard of the order through the media.

The court, he argued, has not given a blanket order for her protection, instead it has said, “if necessary,” she should be given protection.

“It is a temporary injunction given without hearing from other parties. We will present our side in the next hearing and present the correct position provided we get the legal notice,” he said.

“If she is so threatened, why is she insisting on staying there? She is free to move out and move to safe accommodation where she can live peacefully,” the priest said.

Meanwhile, Sister Kalappura insisted that she will not move out of the FCC convent Karakkamala in village in Wayanad district, where she lives now.

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