Catholics Condemn Sacking of Sister Lucy for Driving, Mulakkal Row
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Reporters: Smitha TK, Shubhangi Mishra
Sister Lucy Kalapura was unanimously voted to be dismissed from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) of the Catholic Church in Kerala.
Sister Lucy received a dismissal order from the church on 5 August that read “did not show the needed remorse and you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your lifestyle in violation of the proper law of the FCC”.
Some of her other ‘crimes’ were learning to drive, owning a car and publishing a collection of poems. She was a prominent face in the protests held in September 2018 by nuns demanding the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
The Quint spoke to Lucy, who talked about how this seems like a move by the Church to intimidate those who are supporting the victim. We also caught up with Catholic Christians to find out if they thought the church was right and how they view the protests by the nuns against the Bishop.
‘A Blasphemous Order’
‘Absolute blasphemy,’ is what a few students in Kerala and Mumbai had to say about the way the church has dismissed Sister Lucy.
Many Catholics said learning to drive and wanting to publish poems is a person’s right and it is unjust for the church to impose such restrictions and dismiss her ‘on such flimsy grounds.’
“Rules of the Catholic church have been known to be pretty archaic but I’ve seen a lot of congregations allow and, in fact encourage their nuns to be more self-powered and come forward to ultimately serve their people better. Those have been, and I think always should be, the basic tenets of Christianity,” said a resident of Mumbai.
“Keeping aside the policies and principles that have been enforced on her, we are seeing a woman who is trying to do what she simply wants to. Very basic skills. If anything the entire case reeks of sexism and discrimination and partiality on so many levels,” said a Catholic from Mumbai.
However, a few students in Kerala questioned if the Sister had taken adequate measures to ensure she was abiding by the rules of the congregation.
They said that as a nun, one needs to seek due permission from the church. “The letter says she has been warned 13 times before. It’s a good thing Sister brought it out now but why didn't she do that the other 12 times before?,” asked a student from Trivandrum University.
‘Christian Catholic Church Runs on Patriarchal Norms’
Many associated with the church have stated that this move could be one of the many ways in which the church is trying to intimidate the nuns who are supporting the victim.
Bishop Mulakkal has been accused of raping a nun 14 times from 2014 to 2016 and the case is under trial. Several nuns who have stood up against him have allegedly been threatened and efforts have been taken to split them up.
Sister Lucy Kalapura has even spoken to media strongly condemning the Bishop’s actions and thus extending a helping hand to the nuns. “I spoke for those sisters to give them support, to get them more support. I didn’t even know them but wanted to speak to the media for them. But now all this is happening,” she told The Quint.
Catholic Christians also believe the church could be plotting to make their fight weaker.
“Going against the storm is always way too difficult. The case is still under investigation of Kerala police. The bishop is at present not in power. But he is quite able to influence the powerful people and cash in,” said a convent teacher.
“She has been praying, she has been chaste, she has been following everything that the religion expects her to and yet it came to a point where the moment she pointed fingers at someone with male genital organs based on a mistake that was done, the tables turned and yet somehow people call her to be the one who is victimising herself over nothing.”Catholic Christian from Mumbai
Eugene, a devoted member of the Ernakulam Archdiocese said, “It's been going on for centuries, the insiders or whistleblowers who are bold enough to speak the truth come out with the truth are silenced, even citing insanity in certain cases.”
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