COCHIN, India (CNS) — An Indian Catholic nun was dismissed from her Kerala-based congregation for violation of its norms, but the 54-year-old said she plans to fight the action in court.
Sister Lucy Kalapura, a member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, maintained that she was dismissed from the order Aug. 5 for publicly seeking action against a bishop accused of rape, ucanews.com reported.
The congregation’s letter to Sister Kalapura said she had been dismissed for defiance, violating the norms of the congregation and infringing on the vow of poverty.
Sister Kalapura had been given the required canonical warnings but failed to show “needed remorse” and an explanation for her lifestyle in violation of the regulations of the congregation, said the letter signed by Sister Anne Joseph, superior general.
Sister Kalapura told ucanews.com Aug. 7 she will fight the case in the civil court. She did not elaborate.
Media reports said her superiors began to question her in September 2018 after she joined a public protest organized by women religious from another order who were seeking action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who was accused of multiple rapes of a nun from 2014 to 2016.
The bishop in April was charged with wrongful confinement, rape of a woman incapable of giving consent, causing grievous bodily harm during rape, unnatural offense and criminal intimidation.
Church sources maintained that the dismissal was not a vindictive action for Sister Kalapura’s support for the nuns who organized the protest. They said Sister Kalapura had defiantly violated her congregation’s rules for a decade and spent her salary on personal expenses, including buying a car. She teaches in a government-aided school.
In addition, Sister Kalapura spent $1,000 to publish a book against the advice of her superiors. She also ignored warnings against appearing in media and giving interviews explaining her support for the protesting nuns.
Sister Kalapura told reporters Aug. 7 that authorities began to move against her after she supported the nun who claimed to have been raped and then spoke to media seeking action against the accused bishop.
“I did not do anything wrong,” she said. “All I did was to lend support to the hapless nuns who were protesting. What’s the problem if I own a car or write a book?
“I will now seek legal recourse with the help of my well-wishers. I don’t think I am bad in any respect compared to the other 7,000 nuns in our congregation. I consider myself a very good nun,” she added.
The canonical “first warning letter” sent to her in January referred to three other “warnings and corrections” urging her to change her “unsuitable ways” to live in the congregation and her refusal to obey a transfer order.
It also said owning a car and publishing books without permission were against the rules of the congregation and “are grave infringements of the vow of poverty.”
Local media and social media presented the dismissal as an oppressive action against those who protested the bishop.
Father Noble Thomas Parackal, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Mananthavady, said the “whole episode has been scandalous for the common people.”
He told ucanews.com the nun’s congregation will be ready to arrange for meals and accommodation if she needs it.
“In any case, she now earns a salary and after retirement she is also entitled to a government pension,” Father Parackal said. “There is no rights violation here. I think the media is sensationalizing it, deliberately linking a rape case to it.”
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