The Vatican has rejected Kerala nun Lucy Kalappura’s third and final appeal to revoke her expulsion from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, PTI reported on Monday.

Kalappura, who was at the forefront of protests against rape-accused former Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was expelled from the congregation in August 2019 for “violation of the vows of obedience and poverty”. The congregation had objected to her publishing a book, registering a car in her name and appearing on TV.

The nun said she would approach Indian courts for justice, The Indian Express reported. “I had petitioned the local court, which has temporarily stayed the congregation order to vacate the convent,” she added.

Kalappura told the Hindustan Times that Sister Ann Joseph, mother superior of Franciscan Clarist Congregation, sent her a new notice to vacate her convent after the Vatican rejected her appeal against the expulsion.

“You have availed all three levels possible in the Catholic legal system,” Joseph wrote to Kalappura. “You no longer have the right and duty to wear the religious habit of the FCC [Franciscan Clarist Congregation] hereafter and (have to) vacate the convent.”

Kalappura expressed doubts about the authenticity of the letter. “The letter is in Latin, but the covering letter spells out the decision,” she told the newspaper. “Details will be available only after the letter is translated fully. But it is dated 2020.”

Kalappura claimed that even signatures on the letter were old and some original stamps seemed to have been removed from it. “It seems the letter was fabricated to smoke me out of the convent,” she alleged. “I fear it is part of a conspiracy by FCC superiors.”

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Vatican had dismissed Kalappura’s first appeal in October, 2019. Her second appeal was rejected in March 2020.

Kalappura had attended protests against Franco Mulakkal in September 2018, and received multiple warnings from the congregation against her “lifestyle choices” and for going against the Church’s stand on the Mulakkal case. One of the earlier notices had said that Kalappura had participated in TV programmes, published books and written articles even though permission from superiors is required for such activities.

Also read: Kerala: Expelled nun Lucy Kalappura files case against priest, five nuns for trying to defame her

Rape case against Franco Mulakkal

In June 2019, the police filed charges against Bishop Franco Mulakkal after a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam. Mulakkal has denied the charges.

The police arrested Mulakkal 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. He returned to Jalandhar on October 17.

In 2020, he was formally charged with rape, repeated rape, misuse of authority, wrongful confinement and use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman, among other charges.

An internal investigation by the Missionaries of Jesus in September found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has also attempted to malign the complainant repeatedly, once alleging that she was in a relationship with a taxi driver.