Nun sexual abuse: Cardinal Alencherry accused of cover-up

The nun says she had complained to the cardinal two years ago

By Matters India Reporter

New Delhi: Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, has been dragged into another controversy — this time for inaction in a nun’s sexual abuse complaint against a Catholic bishop.

The nun, whose name cannot be revealed for legal reasons, approached the Inspector General of Police in Kerala, southern India, on June 30 alleging that the cardinal had not acted on her complaint against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar.

A day earlier, she had filed another case in Vaikom, Kerala, against Bishop Mulakkal. She alleged that the bishop first raped her in May 2014 at a guest house in Kuravilangad near Kerala’s Kottayam town and later on subjected her to rape and unnatural sex on 13 different occasions.

The nun, who is reportedly in mid 40s, has worked for decades in Jalandhar diocese that covers the northern Indian state of Punjab.

Bishop Mulakkal, 55, has denied the charge and dismissed it as an act of revenge for transferring her from superior’s post in the Missionaries of Jesus, a 25-year-old diocesan congregation for women that works mainly in Punjab.

The nun’s case against Bishop Mulakkal was filed ten days after the prelate complained to the police in Kottayam about a life threat from her brother.

The Jalandhar diocese shared with Matters India an audio clip of the bishop’s interview with a Malayalam TV channel. In it, the prelate said the nun was acting vengefully for probing a complaint he had received from a married woman accusing the nun of sexual relations with her husband.

Amid such allegations and counter allegations, the Kerala police on July 1 said they would send a team to Jalandhar to question Bishop Mulakkal.

The nun, who is now based in Kerala, her native place, says she had informed Cardinal Alencherry about her abuse two years ago but he took no action.

The police questioned her for five hours on July 1 and she reported stuck to her complaints. She clarified that she stood firm in the sexual assault allegation against the bishop. The police recorded her statement at a convent near Kuravilangad.

She was subjected to medical tests on June 30.

Meanwhile, a group of Syro-Malabar Catholics filed another complaint against the cardinal for allegedly failing to act on the nun’s sexual abuse complaint.

The cardinal is already mired in a controversial land scam where prime property of Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese was sold at much lower prices.

John Jacob, who represents the complainants, said the cardinal should have forwarded the nun’s complaint to police.

This was the view of Kerala State Women’s Commission chairperson M C Josephine. She told reporters that the cardinal should have handed over to the police if the nun had raised charges of rape.

Sources in the Syro-Malabar Church said the Oriental rite has nothing with the charges as both Bishop Mulakkal and the nun served the Latin rite.

Latin rite dioceses such as Jalandhar come under the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, is its president. Mulakkal, who was ordained a priest for Jalandhar in 1990, became its bishop in 2013. He was earlier the auxiliary bishop of Delhi archdiocese.

Meanwhile, supporters of Bishop Mulakkal rejected the charges against the prelate. They said the nun filed the complaint after an official of the Jalandhar diocese lodged a police complaint against her relatives on charges of threatening the bishop.

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9 thoughts on “Nun sexual abuse: Cardinal Alencherry accused of cover-up

  1. As children we used to play a simple game called “Am I Right”..asking the opponent while
    stepping into square columns, if the player has stepped in correctly. The present situation of the see saw battle or the tug-o-war between a Bishop and a Nun..very much looks like one of these childish games..having now reached absurd proportions. The media in Kerala has made a mockery of the situation and at best their programmes can be titled “Prime Time Comedy Thrillers”….both the Bishop and the Nun being the main Comedians ! The less they are given attention the better for the church and the public.


    As an individual who worked in formation houses for almost eight years before I had to take the decision that I took due to acute throat problem I have a few observations to make on the formation that is imparted to the candidates.

    Almost (approximately) fourteen years of disciplined seminary life goes into the making of a priest.
    Sexual deviations just does not happen all of a sudden………..
    If seminarians are closely followed up…..clear signs of impending danger in this area(sexual deviation) can very well be noticed during these years of formation.

    So in the first place we have to really probe and see if real care is taken to eliminate individuals(candidates for priesthood and religious life) even with the slightest weakness in matters related to chastity.
    Modern psychology can very well assist us in imparting quality formation.
    Do the personal involved in imparting formation to the seminarians take care to see that the candidates are really men of deep convinced personal spirituality.These days more than ever only A DEEP PRAYER LIFE can safeguard individuals from real moral dangers due to the media explosion .
    All said and done ………..sheer emphasis on numerical strength and total negligence of quality formation leads to all these scandals that we see and hear these days.

    The church has to accept in all sincerity that a lot of COVERING UP was done in the past especially in real abrasions connected to chastity. Many were sheltered and protected beyond all tolerable limits.
    Gone are the days………so role up the sleeves and take strong actions if people are found really culpable. LET PEOPLE THINK TEN TIMES TO FIND OUT FOR THEMSELVES IF THEY CAN REALLY FIT INTO THIS PARTICULAR WALK OF LIFE……… NOT EVERY TOM ,DICK AND HARRY CAN BE AN AUTHENTIC PRIEST.

  3. It is reported that the Bishop said on Malayalam TV channel that the nun is acting revengeful because the Bishop was probing a complaint from a married woman, accusing the nun of sexual relations with her husband. This aspect also should be investigated thoroughly as some nuns are quite capable of being arrogant and revengeful.

  4. It appears that both the Bishop and the nun were leading hypocritical double standard life, cheating the Church and the laity. There may be many more like these. It is high time for laity to wake up and not elevate these hypocrites to the level of Jesus.

  5. If as alleged there were repeated sexual encounters then they could only be consensual, and therefore not rape. It would then be a moral and ecclesiastical issue not a criminal one.

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