Nun writes to Pope’s ambassador against Jalandhar bishop, questions Church’s ‘silence’
- In the letter to Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Diquattro, the nun wondered whether the Catholic Church has concern only for bishops and priests.
- The letter to the ambassador comes even as public support for the aggrieved nun is growing.
- The hunger strike and public protest in Kochi by several nuns demanding Bishop Franco’s arrest entered the fourth day on Tuesday.
KOTTAYAM/KOCHI: Facing increasing stigma and persecution from local church authorities ever since she accused Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakal + of repeatedly raping her, the Kottayam-based nun has written to the ambassador of the Pope in India pleading that a “speedy enquiry” be conducted into the case and that “Bishop Franco be removed from his responsibilities”. Copies of the seven-page letter dated September 8, 2018, were released to the media on Tuesday.
In the letter to Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Diquattro, the nun wondered whether the “Catholic Church has concern only for bishops and priests. We would like to know if is there any provision in Canon Law for justice for nuns and women?”
Claiming that she and those supporting her in her trauma are being virtually ostracised, including denial of Holy Mass at her convent in Kuruvilangad, the letter says that “the silence on the part of the Church is leading me to further humiliation and character assassination”. She demanded whether “Church authorities can give back what I have lost”.
The letter to the ambassador comes even as public support for the aggrieved nun is growing. The hunger strike and public protest in Kochi by several nuns demanding Bishop Franco’s arrest entered the fourth day on Tuesday.
In her letter, the nun, obviously referring to insinuations on her silence after she was first molested, said that she “had tremendous fear and shame to bring this out into the open. I feared suppression of the congregation and threats to my family members”.
She also says in the letter that she discreetly hinted to her Superior General and her counsellors that the bishop was taking many disciplinary actions against her “just because I resisted to lie down with him. As they failed to understand even the seriousness of these words, I could not tell them more than this”. She also alleged that Bishop Franco was trying to manipulate the investigation with wrong information and money, political power and support from other ecclesiastical authorities.
Accusing the bishop of being a serial offender, the nun writes, “Bishop Franco always had an eagle’s eye on a few other MJ (Missionaries of Jesus) sisters as well. Whichever sister Bishop Franco felt attraction to, he tried to put them in his trap by force or taking advantage of their weaknesses.” The letter points out that several nuns have left the Church because of the actions of the bishop in the last five years.
Seeking the nuncio’s intervention, the nun pleads in her letter that “being a religious sister who has been denied justice from the congregation and from the Church authority of Latin and Syro Malabar Churches, once again I implore your mercy on my situation”.
Bishop Mulakkal rubbished the charges against him as “baseless and concocted” and accused the nun of “blackmailing” him. He said only three persons knew the truth – “The complainant’s sister, myself and God”.
Copies of the letter were sent to 21 others, including Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India president Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Delhi metropolitan archbishop Anil Couto. Incidentally, the nun first wrote to the nuncio in January 2018, detailing the allegations of rape, sexual exploitation and mental torture. Though the letter was handed over to the nuncio during a meeting in Bengaluru by Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil, Bishop of Bhagalpur, the nun received no reply. Then in May 2018, she sent letters to Rome, including to Pope Francis, by courier. Though the letters were delivered, there was no reply from any of them. In June 2018, the nun wrote to the Vatican’s state secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin Segretario, but once again, to no avail.
Meanwhile, Kerala government has rejected allegations of attempts to sabotage the case. Saying that there was no pressure on the government in acting against the bishop, senior minister E P Jayarajan said in Kannur on Tuesday: “A very strong investigation is being carried out in the case. It is proceeding in the right direction.”
Police are contemplating sending fresh summons to Bishop Franco to appear before it in Kottayam and a final decision will be taken on the matter after a review meeting scheduled for Wednesday.