‘We Are Not Going Anywhere’: Kerala Nuns Stand Together
Four Kerala nuns, who campaigned against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal for sexually assaulting a nun in Kerala, have got reminder notices to leave the Kuravilangad convent.
However, the nuns say that this is just an effort to isolate each one of them, harass them and close the case but they are strong and will stand together.
Letters have been sent to four of the five nuns – Sister Alphy Pallasseril, Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, and Sister Ancitta Urumbil – who supported their fellow rape survivor nun.
These letters issued by Superior General Regina Kadamthottu state that the sisters should not use the legal case as an excuse to stay back.
Sister Anupama, for example, has been asked to go back to Chamiyari community in Punjab, where she was appointed as one of the members in March 2018.
Sister Ancitta has been asked to join the Pariyaram community, Kannur, where she was shifted to in May 2018.
Sister Alphy has been asked to join the Pakartala community in Bihar, where she was appointed as the Mother Superior in May 2017. Sister Alphy, who is close to the survivor nun, has returned to Kerala to provide moral support.
Activists like Indulekha Joseph, part of the Kerala Christian Reformation Movement (KCRM), have assured complete support to the nuns.
“The way the church authorities are approaching the issue is very different. Because they know how to torture you mentally and kill you gradually. If that person is secluded and taken away to another place, not necessarily, could even be forced to commit suicide - by avoiding them, ostracizing them,” she said.
This is what Sister Alphy had to say:
Four of the five nuns who supported their fellow rape survivor nun have been asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent. So what are you going to do?
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!
Why have they renewed this order now?
They want to break our strength. Because if we are alone, then we can’t fight against them. They know we are strong only because we are standing together. If we all go to different places, then they can mentally torture and harass you. If you go to any of these communities, there are 4 sisters there and three of them support Bishop Franco.
So when we get singled out, we will get mentally and physically down . .depressed. So they want to seclude the victim and erase her completely. That is their plan. Until now, the Sister General has never supported us. She didn’t even call us to give these letters, just sent them. Usually when there is a problem at home, how many people come in support? But here we have nobody.
Are you safe at the convent?
There are totally 10 sisters of which we are six and four others support Bishop Franco Sometimes when we go ask them for money for medicines, they just won’t. So much that we had to borrow money from the policemen to go to the hospital. Even now they are trying different ways to torture us.
Once we thought we will cultivate vegetables in a barren land here, not even for monetary purposes, just to engage ourselves. So we had called a helper. Even he was threatened and sent away.
What is your next plan of action?
Our Mother General has told that they will make arrangements to bring us back (for the case hearing). But here, take our security. There was a security camera which was damaged and Mother didn’t even have the finance for that. In that case, how will they able to afford to bring us back? Because the team opposing us is too strong.
What do you fear?
They want to erase us all and prove that Bishop Franco is innocent. And this is all an attempt to do that. We don’t have any support from the Catholics group or our nuns but just the public. Sisters cover the faces and walk away when they see us. People who complain are seen as accused and the culprit is seen as innocent.