Stephen Kottakkal, the vicar of Karakkamala St Mary’s Church in Kerala’s Wayanad, on Sunday refuted reports that the Catholic church had taken disciplinary action against a nun for protesting against a bishop accused of rape.

Lucy Kalappurakkal had claimed that the Franciscan Clarist congregation had barred her from participating in “prayer, worship and mass” after she participated in a protest against former Jalandhar bishop and rape accused Franco Mulakkal, Manorama Online reported.

The congregation is yet to respond to queries about the matter.

Mulakkal was arrested on Friday for allegedly raping a nun.

Kottakkal said the church had not taken any decision against her. “I cannot take action against Sister Lucy,” Kottakal said. “She has been criticising the church authorities through the media for the last three months. The sister has been giving religious education to children here. Now parents have informed me that they do not want Sister Lucy to teach their children. I have informed this to the mother superior of the congregation and she would have communicated it to the nun.”

Unidentified officials from the congregation said the Syro Malabar Mananthavady diocese had recommended action against Kalappurakkal three months ago, the news website reported.

The nun reportedly violated her congregation’s rules by posting comments against the church on social media, acquired a car on loan and appeared in public without a nun’s habit. The nun alleged that the restrictions were revenge for her participation in the protest, Mathrubhumi News reported.

A spokesperson of the Mananthvadi Diocese refused to comment, the Hindustan Times reported. Agustin Vattolly, Catholic priest convener of Save our Sisters outfit that was formed to support the nuns’ protest, said his organisation would try to get the diocese to reverse its decision.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police took the accused to a St Francis Mission Home guest house in Kuravilangadu to help them reconstruct the crime scene, PTI reported. On Saturday, the Kerala High Court had rejected Mulakkal’s bail petition and sent him to two days in police custody.

The case

In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – one in Kottayam and the other in Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.

Mulakkal has denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He filed a complaint against the complainant and five other nuns, accusing them of framing him.

The Missionaries of Jesus has said its internal investigation found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has also accused the nun of being in a relationship with a taxi driver. The bishop, too, claims that there are “several contradictions” in the evidence collected by the police.

The Catholic Church in India comprises Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches.