The Kottayam-based nun allegedly raped by Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, has written to the Vatican’s representative in India seeking justice and highlighting apathy of the Church despite her repeated calls for intervention.
The letter from the nun, attached to the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation, is dated September 8 and addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro. The nun said she had, in 2017, approached two priests from Kerala and informed them about the abuse by Bishop Franco, between 2014 and 2016.
She also wrote about “his continued torture” from the time she took courage and resisted him. The nun said she planned to leave the congregation in May 2017 but decided against it after intervention by priests and sisters who supported her.
“Though Bishop Franco had sexually abused me several times, I could not reveal to my Superior General or to her Councillors the full story. I only told them repeatedly that Bishop is taking many disciplinary actions through them just because I resisted to lie down with him,” she said in the letter.
The nun said she feared that the Bishop would harm her with the help of her superiors and said the Bishop had earlier hushed up charges against him by transferring the complainants to other states.
Referring to Franco as having had an “eagle’s eye” on a few other MJ sisters, the nun said the bishop trapped the sisters by force or took advantage of their weaknesses. “The loss of vocations from the Missionaries of Jesus during the last five years (20 sisters have left) proves that the congregational leadership has no solution for the problems faced by the sisters. The leadership team of the MJ sisters has only depended on Bishop Franco for all their problems. Since I was the seniormost in the congregation, I could not speak openly to any of my sisters,” she said.
The nun also highlighted the Church’s inaction on her letters addressed to higher authorities, including the Nuncio (an earlier letter in January) and the Vatican (in May).
Five MJ sisters are staging a protest in Kochi demanding the bishop’s arrest. Support for the agitation has increased as it entered the fourth day on Tuesday. The nun said though a case was registered and the police team investigating the case had collected evidence, Franco’s arrest was deferred because of his political and financial clout.