Four nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation leading a campaign against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese said on Friday that the Catholic Church’s order transferring them to other convents was an attempt at mental harassment, ANI reported.
“It is mental harassment so that the survivor sister and we come under mental pressure and somehow finish,” said Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil. “We won’t go, will be here with our survivor sister until our case ends.”
Her remarks came days after four of the five nuns who participated in the protests against Mulakkal last year were asked to leave their convent in Kuravilangad, Kerala. The others nuns are Sister Alphy Pallasseril, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, and Sister Ancitta Urumbil.
One of the nuns, speaking on behalf of the group, said they would obey the transfer orders if someone took responsibility for the safety of the nun who was allegedly raped, NDTV reported. “If we leave her alone here, she – or maybe all of us – will meet the same fate as that of Father Kuriakose,” she said, referring to priest Kuriakose Kattuthara, who had deposed against Mulakkal and supported the nuns’ protests. Kattuthara was found dead in October.
The police filed charges against Mulakkal in June after a nun accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam. Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 after three days of questioning. On October 15, the Kerala High Court granted him conditional bail, and he was released the following day. Mulakkal, who returned to Jalandhar on October 17, has denied all charges.
The nuns, meanwhile, also accused Superior General Regina Kadamthottu, who issued the transfer order, of not doing enough to help them despite knowing everything about the case. “Sister Regina closed her eyes to everything,” said the unidentified nun. “We came here only to support our victimised colleague. All the protection is for Franco.”
Kelamangalathuveliyil claimed that anything can happen as Franco has a lot of money and political power. “We hope the court gives us justice,” she said. “We are satisfied with the investigation.”
Jalandhar diocese spokesperson Father Peter Kuvampuram said neither Mulakkal nor the diocese was involved in the decision to transfer the nuns. “The Missionaries of Jesus took a decision on that,” he said. “They come under the Jalandhar diocese but their decisions are independent.”