MUMBAI, India — A religious dismissed from her congregation after she took part in protests against a bishop accused of raping a different nun has appealed the decision to the Vatican’s highest court of appeal.
Sister Lucy Kalapura has asked the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura to allow her to present her case in person; she has also requested a personal audience with Pope Francis.
The nun was dismissed from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation after participating in protests last year calling for the arrest of Bishop Franco Mullakal of Jalandhar.
The congregation said it dismissed the 54-year-old for defiance, violating the norms of the congregation and infringing on the vow of poverty.
The bishop was arrested on Sept. 21, 2018, in Kerala after a months-long investigation into the accusations of a nun claiming he raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He was released on bail on Oct. 15, 2018.
The nun is a member of the Punjab-based Missionaries of Jesus congregation, but said the attacks happened in Kuravilangad, the location of one of the order’s convents in Kerala. His trial is set to begin on Nov. 11.
The bishop vehemently denies the charges, and claims the nun is retaliating because he initiated an investigation against her for an affair she allegedly had with a married man.
In her letter asking to appeal the decision to the Signatura, Kalapura said it was her “ardent wish that the truth be made to prevail” in the case.
In her letter, she accused the congregation of also retaliating against another nun, Sister Lissy Vadakkel, for giving testimony against Mulakkal.
She said the superior of the order transferred Vadakkel to the state of Andhra Pradesh, and put her in de facto solitary confinement.
“Sister Lissy continues to languish in a state tantamount to confinement in the FCC convent in Moovattupuzha. She is divested of all religious responsibilities and hindered from discharging her normal duties,” Kalapura alleged.
“I seek to bring this matter on record as it has a direct bearing on the unjust and vindictive actions initiated against me. In my case too, what purports to be ‘disciplinary action’, and what in reality are reprisals, against me commenced only after I stood by the sisters of the Missionaries of Jesus in their efforts to secure justice for the outraged nun,” she continued.
“I wish to submit in all humility and earnestness that my commitment to my spiritual vocation is my sole motive force, and it pains me deeply that I am targeted and stigmatized as a problem case only because I try to be faithful in my commitment to my spiritual calling,” the nun said.
The Mulakkal case has divided the Church in the state of Kerala, the heart of Christianity in India. Most religious leaders – including the superiors of the women’s religious congregations involved – have supported the bishop; while protesters have said it shines a light on the poor conditions of nuns in the Church.
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