Indian nun dismissed from religious life for disobedience appeals to Signatura

Indian nun dismissed from religious life for disobedience appeals to Signatura

Credit: Burhan Bunardi Xie/Shutterstock.
Credit: Burhan Bunardi Xie/Shutterstock.

.- Sister Lucy Kalapura, whose dismissal from religious life was upheld by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches last month, has sent a letter asking that her case be further appealed before the Apostolic Signatura.

She was dismissed from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation in August for several acts of disobedience, including a protest of the handling of another nun's accusation that Bishop Mulakkal of Jullundur serially raped her.

“I am deeply obliged for providing me the opportunity for a further appeal to the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura Apostolica. It is desired, in this connection, that an opportunity be granted to me to appear in person before the Tribunal to enable me to present to its honourable members my side of the situation,” Sister Lucy wrote in an Oct. 25 letter to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

She also asked that she be able to present her case to Pope Francis.

According to the FCC, Sr. Lucy has led a life against the principles of religious life by disobeying a transfer order, publishing poems after having been denied permission to do so, buying a vehicle, withholding her salary from the congregation, and participating in a protest against Bishop Mulakkal, who has been charged with several instances of raping a nun of a different congregation.

Bishop Mulakkal was charged with rape in April, and his trial is due to begin Nov. 11. A nun of the Missionaries of Jesus alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.

In her letter to Cardinal Sandri, Sr. Lucy said, according to News 18, that “what purports to be 'disciplinary action', and what in reality are reprisals, against me commenced only after I stood by the sisters of the Missionaries of Jesus in their efforts to secure justice for the outraged nun.”

“I wish to urge strenuously that the actions initiated against me, and the vindictiveness it reeks of, cannot be understood aright, if they are seen in isolation from the Franco Mulakkal matter as the trigger,” she added.

Sr. Lucy wrote that she is “a collateral victim of this Franco Mulakkal scandal, in regard to which the mettle of the Church's commitment to truth and justice is being tested in full public view.”

She charged that “it does not have to be argued that the Holy See being made to be seen as partisan in this case, or as hostile to justice being available to a rape victim, is sure to discredit the witness and integrity of the Catholic Church for the years to come.”
The community's superior general, Sr. Ann Joseph, wrote in August that Sr. Lucy “did not show the needed remorse and you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your lifestyle in violation of the proper law of the FCC.”
Sr. Lucy said that the FCC's charges of disobedience are a “deliberate attempt to paint her in bad light”.
In a January letter of warning sent to Sr. Lucy, Sr. Ann wrote that the nun had joined a protest regarding Bishop Mulakkal “without the permission of your superior. You have published articles in some non-Christian newspapers and weeklies … gave interviews to 'Samayam' without seeking permission from the provincial superior. Through Facebook, channel discussions and the articles, you belittled the Catholic leadership by making false accusations against it and tried to bring down the sacraments. You tried to defame FCC also. Your performance through social media as a religious sister was culpable, arising grave scandal.”

The letter also said Sr. Lucy failed to obey a transfer order given her in 2015 by her provincial superior, and that she published a book of poems despite being denied permission to do so, and used 50,000 Indian rupees ($700) from the congregation's account “without proper permission” to do so.

Sr. Lucy is also accused of buying a car for about $5,670 and learning to drive without permission, and failing to entrust her salary from December 2017.

Sr. Ann called these acts “a grave infringement of the vow of poverty.”
The superior general added that Sr. Lucy has been corrected and warned several times by her provincial over her “improper behaviour and violations of religious discipline.”

“Instead of correcting yourself, you are simply denying the allegations against you stating that you have to live your own beliefs, ideologies and conviction. You are repeatedly violating the vows of obedience and poverty. The evangelization and social work you do should be according to the FCC values, principles and rules. The present mode of your life is a grave violation of the profession you have made,” Sr. Ann wrote.

After the denial of Sr. Lucy’s initial appeal was communicated to her earlier this month, she told the BBC that “I don't see any point” in further recourse to the Apostolic Signatura, “since they have made up their mind.”

She maintained: “I am not going to leave the convent. The lifestyle I lead is as per the rules and regulations.”

Sr. Lucy was sent a series of warnings from January through March. The first asked that she appear before Sr. Ann to explain her disobediences, or face expulsion from the congregation.

In January Sr. Lucy said that the congregation was trying to silence her, and denied any wrongdoing.

In May the FCC’s General Council voted unanimously to dismiss Sr. Lucy.

Another nun of the FCC, Sister Lissy Vadakkel, was transferred earlier this year from Muvattupuzha to Vijawada.

Sister Alphonas Abraham, superior of the FCC's Nirmala Province, said in February that Sr. Lissy's transfer was unrelated to her acting as a witness in the case against Bishop Mulakkal.

Tags: Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Bishop Franco Mulakkal, Sister Lucy Kalapura, Franciscan Clarist Congregation

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