By Aparna Banerji
Jalandhar, March 10, 2019: A member of a campaign to help Catholic nuns in distress says the five sisters who protested against a rape accused bishop now lead a scared life because of pressure from the Church.
The members of the Missionaries of Jesus are certain that they would face torture if they were transferred outside their convent in Kerala’s Kuravilangad town, says Anila George, lawyer and activist associated with the ‘Save Our Sisters’ (SOS) campaign.
The nuns have resisted their superiors’ order to return to their assigned convents, saying it was a move to isolate the alleged rape victim and weaken the case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar.
The five had incurred the ire of their superiors by joining a sit-in the SOS organized last September near the Kerala High Court demanding the bishop’s arrest.
Bishop Mulakkal was subsequently arrested and jailed, but was bailed out after three weeks.
“This (the harassment of the nuns) brings us to a scenario where renewed protests against the Church are necessary so that [Bishop Mulakkal] cannot exert any kind of pressure in the case. It is necessary to expel him and not to allow him to continue at the diocese” George said while addressing a convention of the Janwadi Istri Sabha (socialist women council) on March 8, the International Women’s Day, in Jalandhar.
George along with another Kerala-based activist Kusum Joseph and women’s rights leader Laila Rashid participated in the convention.
The convention passed a resolution seeking the rejection of Bishop Mulakkal’s bail and dismissal of the transfer orders of the five nuns.
George said, “There is scare and repression within the Church. Franco is a powerful man whose clout is evident as the Jalandhar diocese PRO sidestepped orders by the present Jalandhar bishop who had revoked the sisters’ transfers. The sisters are scared that they might be transferred from the convent.”