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India

Vatican rejects controversial Indian nun's appeal

Dismissed nun refuses to move out and vows to move civil court to ensure her right to have a dignified life

UCA News reporter, Kochi

UCA News reporter, Kochi

Updated: March 03, 2020 09:54 AM GMT
Vatican rejects controversial Indian nun's appeal

Sister Lucy Kalapura, the nun who was dismissed from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation in Kerala last year, is honored at a cultural function in Kannur town of Kerala on Feb. 23. The nun has refused to move out of her convent. (Photo: Facebook) 

The Vatican's Supreme Tribunal has rejected a controversial Indian nun's appeal against her expulsion from her congregation, but she has refused to move out of her convent.

Sister Lucy Kalapura maintains that she was illegally dismissed from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) based in the southern state of Kerala and will not move out.

"I will not vacate the convent as I was dismissed illegally," she told UCA News on March 2 after Segnatura Apostica, the top adjudication office of the Church, rejected her appeal.

The FCC, an international congregation, dismissed the nun on Aug. 5, 2019, citing disobedience and breaking religious vows of poverty. But the congregation gave her the canonical opportunity to appeal to the Vatican and continue in the convent.

However, the Vatican's Congregation for Oriental Churches rejected her appeal on Oct. 11. But she refused to move out of the convent and appealed to the Supreme Tribunal two weeks later.

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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 was arrested on Sept. 21 last year following fortnight-long public protests and faces court proceedings on rape charges.

The congregation claims that the nun'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.

Sister Kalapura said her congregation acted to save the bishop and she has no faith in the system to deliver justice.

"I now doubt if the Vatican has indeed received my appeal. And also if the letter I received is actually from the Vatican," the nun said.

She said she received a letter from the Vatican on Feb. 28 informing her of the rejection of her appeal. "However, I do not know exactly what its content is. It is in Latin, a language alien to me," she said.

She said she had sought an opportunity to meet the Vatican authorities for presenting "my side personally before Pope Francis."

"I was never given an opportunity for that, nor has anyone from the Vatican contacted me or listened to my side of the story before passing this order of dismissal," she said.

Church authorities were reaffirming the order of the congregation without listening to her. "It is such an unjust system," she said.

The fight goes on

The dismissed nun has vowed to continue her fight in an Indian court.

Sister Kalapura, a 54-year-old schoolteacher, said she had served the congregation for more than three decades. "If they ask me to get out at this age, how can I leave? And where will I go?"

She said she wanted to continue as a nun. "If the congregation finds it difficult to keep me, let them make an alternative arrangement for my stay. Until then, I will continue in the convent," she said.

Kalapura said she would move the civil court to defend her right to have a dignified life.

The nun currently lives in an FCC convent in Wayanad district in Mananthavady Diocese of Kerala.

Diocesan officials claim that since the Vatican has rejected her second appeal, she should move out of the convent.

"Now she is no longer a nun. She has no right to stay in a convent, which is meant for nuns," said Father Manoj Kakkonal of the diocese's media commission.

Riju Kanjookaran, a supporter of the dismissed nun, also said the Vatican had not done justice to her.

"A nun can only be dismissed if she is found violating the vows of chastity and has worked against the teachings of the Church," Kanjookaran told UCA News on March 3.

He said charges of indiscipline, disobedience and violation of poverty vows are subject to interpretation and "not valid grounds to dismiss one from religious life."

"She faces no serious charges warranting dismissal but no one from the Vatican heard her before dismissing her two appeals," Kanjookaran said. "This is not fair. We want a clarification from the Vatican before asking the nun to leave the congregation." 

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