The Kottayam-based nun allegedly raped by Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, has made a fervent appeal to the Vatican’s representative in India, seeking justice and highlighting the Church’s apathy to her repeated calls for intervention.
The letter from the nun who is 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. The letter also throws light on the bishop’s “continued torture” from the time she took courage and resisted him.
“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 seven-page letter. The letter is copied to 21 senior Church functionaries including Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. The nun has pointed out instances in which Franco filed false police cases against her and other sisters and members of her family.
Referring to Franco as having had an “eagle’s eye” on a few other MJ sisters, the nun said the bishop trapped them by force or took advantage of their weaknesses. “The loss of vocations from the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) during the last five years (20 sisters have left) proves that the congregational leadership has no solution for the problems faced by the sisters,” she said.
Five MJ sisters are staging a protest in Kochi demanding Franco’s arrest. Support for the agitation has increased as it entered the fourth day on Tuesday. The nun said Franco was trying to manipulate the ongoing police investigation with his “money, political power and support from other ecclesiastical authorities”.
Minister for Industries E P Jayarajan said on Tuesday that investigation in the case was on course.
“From childhood we have been taught to believe that the Church is our mother. But in the light of my experience I’m beginning to think that the Church is a step-mother to women and laity,” the nun said.
Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, did not respond positively to her pleas. In January this year, she wrote to the Nuncio himself and in May, to three Church officials in Rome including Pope Francis. She approached police in Kuravilangad, in Kottayam, on June 28.
Since the case was registered against the bishop, she and her supporters are being isolated in the Church and the society. “We feel Catholic Church is having concern only for the Bishops and priests. We would like to know is there any provision in the Canon Law for justice for sisters and women,” she said.