For Sister Jesme, the rape allegation against Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar is another call for a clean-up in the Church.
“These are times when we wonder if wealth has taken over and Christ has left the Church,” she said on Wednesday. Sr Jesme, a former nun who walked out of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel 11 years ago, was speaking at an event organised to express solidarity with the complainant, the Kottayam-based nun, and demand the bishop’s arrest.
She recollected instances in which she was targeted for having rebelled against corruption and sexual abuse in the Church before she decided to write the tell-all Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun. The former nun who has not discarded the ‘Sr’ title said she was being the voice of the voiceless, marginalised nuns.
The public protest, organised near the State Secretariat, marked the extension of an ongoing agitation in Kochi in which five nuns, all inmates of the Kuravilangad convent where the complainant lives, have joined in. “It’s heartening to see them coming out in public to seek justice”, Sr Jesme said.
She countered the argument that the nun failed to complain about the bishop after the first instance of abuse. “I want to ask those people, even when she did complain, now, what has happened?” The nun had approached police in Kuravilangad – after pleas to higher authorities in the Church failed to evoke a response – on June 27. More than 75 days later, calls for the bishop’s arrest are getting louder.
The protest in Thiruvananthapuram saw members of Christian organisations, activists and political outfits join in. Veteran Congress leader and former state president V M Sudheeran who spoke at the event said attempts were being made by the police top brass to derail the probe which had made steady progress initially. The investigating officer had himself informed the High Court, on August 13, that there was evidence to establish the crime, he said. “The bishop, instead of proclaiming himself as innocent, should step down,” Sudheeran said.