EDITORIAL | This cannot be ‘Christian values’

EDITORIAL | This cannot be ‘Christian values’

Sisters Anupama, Josephine, Alphy, Neena Rose and Ancita, who had been agitating against the rape accused bishop ending their stir in Kochi, on September 22, 2018. PTI file photo

The manner in which the Catholic congregation, Missionaries of Jesus, continues to hound the nuns, who are speaking up in support of another nun, a rape survivor, even as it protects the rape accused, Bishop Franco Mulakkal, is alarming and disgusting. Four of the five nuns who have been at the forefront of the agitation against Mulakkal have been ordered to leave their convent in Kottayam district in compliance with a transfer order issued last year. The Superior General Regina Kadamthottu says it is a routine transfer. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. The four nuns were assigned to communities in different states. They were issued the transfer orders at the height of the agitation last year, when tension between the congregation and the nuns was running high. The transfer is aimed at weakening the nuns’ struggle for justice. It has been a long and tough battle for the nuns who are fighting to bring Mulakkal to justice. He is accused of having raped a nun many times between 2014 and 2016. The nun has said that Church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints, forcing her to go to the police. Mulakkal has denied the charges and gone on to file several cases against the rape survivor, her family and other nuns supporting her.

Also read: Nun warned of expulsion for stir against Bishop Franco

It is a matter of grave concern that the Missionaries of Jesus and the Catholic Church have extended strong support to Mulakkal, a powerful bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus. It was only after the nuns protested for several months that Mulakkal was arrested. He got out on bail soon after. Instead of shaming the rapist and bringing him to justice, the Catholic Church and several of its institutions have been maligning the rape survivor and the nuns supporting her. Statements issued by the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council, for instance, criticise the nuns for not living according to ‘Christian values.’

Also read: Nun heckled, asked to leave Jalandhar priest's funeral

Both the alleged rapist and the rape survivor belong to the same institution. The least the Missionaries of Jesus and the Catholic Church can do is to distance themselves from the accused until the courts declare him innocent. Instead, they have chosen to protect the predator and hound the nuns. By throwing their weight repeatedly behind a rape accused, the Catholic Church has laid bare its patriarchal and misogynistic mindset. It should be standing by the rape survivor. The decision to transfer nuns supporting the rape survivor’s fight for justice is aimed at breaking their collective strength, isolating the rape survivor and weakening their struggle for justice. Civil society must come out and support the nuns strongly.

Also read: Action council meets Kerala CM, seek protection for nun