Bishop Franco Case: ‘Life in Danger,’ Nuns Write to Kerala CM
The nuns from Kuravilangad convent, including the survivor have written to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asking him to intervene and ensure that they live in the present convent and are not transferred. They also said that the Bishop is very powerful and can sabotage the case.
Months after four nuns spoke out against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of sexually assaulting a nun, the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) had asked them to leave the Kerala convent and head back to their assigned convents.
MJ had transferred the four nuns in April 2018, and later sent a reminder notice, asking them not to use the case as an alibi for not leaving. Following this order, the nuns had refused to pay heed and had issued public statements against the bishop last year.
Speaking to the media, Sister Anupama said that it was an attempt by Missionaries of Jesus to destabilise the nuns emotionally, reported ANI.
Letters had been sent to four of the five nuns – Sister Alphy Pallasseril, Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, and Sister Ancitta Urumbil – who supported the rape survivor.
Sister Alphy echoed the sentiments of all the nuns and said they were keen to not leave at all. “No. We are not going to go back. This transfer came in 2018 and we were all in different places and we came from there and they are now telling us to go back to the same places. Because one of us will go to Bihar, Punjab, Jharkand and Kannur. It is our strength to stand together!” she said.
‘Transfer Could Affect the Trial’
The survivor nun explained how the transfer would threaten their lives.
She has written, "Their (the four nuns) presence is a great solace for me. Now I am in a broken situation and cut a sorry figure before the congregation and the public. Their 'fate of life' itself is unpredictable if they are transferred to distant regions. If the transfer is affected, we will not be in a position to give evidence in the case daringly. We will not be allowed to live peacefully and would be emotionally and mentally collapsed," reported The News Minute.
The nun also pointed out that the transfer would affect the prosecution and fair trial would not be possible.
Nuns Blamed for Tarnishing Image of the Congregation
According to The News Minute, which has accessed the letters dated 3 January sent by MJ to each nun, the directive issued by Superior General Regina Kadamthottu reads:
"Accusations sans truth have been flying thick and fast in the public realm about the lack of concern the MJ Congregation was showing to the nuns who are standing for justice. Even as you and a few other MJ members continue to have no qualms in issuing mala fide public statements and circulate baseless stories tarnishing the images of the MJ Congregation, and portraying the Mother General and other members as "enemies of those who are fighting for their justice", I have been ensuring that the congregation continue supporting you all with food, accommodation and the cost of medical treatment as required."
TNM noted that the nuns have been asked to go back to the convents they were transferred to – Sister Anupama to Chamiyari community in Punjab, Sister Ancitta to the Pariyaram community, Kannur; Sister Alphy to the Pakartala community in Bihar and Sister Josephine to the Lalmatia community in Jharkhand.
However, the nuns had made it clear that they will not abandon their friend in the Kuravilangad convent.