The Catholic Church has issued transfer orders to Sister Neena Rose Edathil, one of the five nuns from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation who had protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kerala, PTI reported on Tuesday.

The four other nuns – Alphy Pallasseril, Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Josephine Villoonnickal and Ancitta Urumbil – have already been asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent and return to the convents previously assigned to them through transfer orders issued between March and May 2018.

Edathil was asked to report to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation’s Jalandhar convent on January 26 and meet Superior General Regina Kadamthottu. The nun has been asked to “present your defence for abdicating basic tenets of religious life and resorting to activities which amount to sheer violation of their congregational rules”, according to the Hindustan Times.

“It is highly regretted that despite my reminder dated June 20 you are carrying on with the rebellious posture refusing to be part of the community and its daily religious life,” the letter signed by Kadamthottu said. “Despite reminders to mend your present way of life which is not in accordance with our religious vows and congregational discipline, you have refused to fall in line thereby raising a serious question mark on your commitment.”

The nun said she has not yet decided if she will meet the superior general on January 26, according to The Indian Express. “They have threatened to take further action if I fail to report in Jalandhar,” she was quoted as saying.

The four nuns who received their transfer orders earlier this month wrote to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last week seeking his intervention. They claimed the orders were part of an attempt to “sabotage the case” and that this was a form of mental harassment.

The nuns had earlier accused Superior General Regina Kadamthottu of not doing enough to help them despite knowing everything about the case. “Sister Regina closed her eyes to everything,” one of the nuns had said. “We came here only to support our victimised colleague. All the protection is for Franco.”

Jalandhar diocese spokesperson Father Peter Kuvampuram had said that 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.

The case

The police had 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 Missionaries of Jesus had said its internal investigation found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation had also attempted to malign the complainant repeatedly, and had once claimed that she was in a relationship with a taxi driver.

In November, reports had claimed that the congregation had told the Kerala Police that they do not have the “financial capacity” to protect the nun who accused former Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape.