Expelled nun seeks justice from Rome

Sr Lucy Kalappura talking to a parishioner

By Matters India Reporter

Mananthavady, August 16, 2019: A Catholic nun in Kerala has appealed to the Pontifical Congregation for the Oriental Churches against her dismissal from a congregation on disciplinary grounds.

“I’m very afraid… they are killing me little by little, trying to take away all my happiness,” Sister Lucy Kalappura, a member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, told media persons on August 16 after sending the appeal.

The 54-year-old schoolteacher was given the dismissal order on August 5 that gave her ten days to appeal Rome against the congregation’s decision.

“My colleagues in the convent keep smiling, talking among themselves. They have completely isolated me. They don’t even ask me to join them to eat or anything. I have come to terms with it, but it’s still very hard.”

The 130-year-old indigenous congregation has relieved her of all services as a nun.

Sister Kalappura’s dismissal came amid a controversy over the alleged rape of another nun. In September last year, she joined five members of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation who sat on roadside in Kerala’s Kochi demanding justice for their former superior general who accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar or raping her repeated over a period of two year.

Sister Kalappura, who traveled from Wayanad to join the protest, alleges that she is being targeted for participating in the protests and speaking on television channels about the Church leaders’ neglect of the rape survivor.

She now says she would also move the Indian court in two weeks’ time to seek justice.

The congregation cited several reasons for expelling Sister Kalappura. They include dress code violations, buying a car, disobeying the authorities, getting involved in large monetary transactions by publishing a book and bringing out a music CD, not submitting her salary to the convent, and making media appearances since September 20, 2018.

Sister Kalappura maintains that her possessions – especially the car – shouldn’t have been seen as a violation of her vow of poverty but as a means to better fulfill her responsibilities.

“I have been driving the car only for apostolic work, to fulfill my duties in a better way. In the one year since I bought the car, which was the cheapest available in the market, I have been able to visit hundreds of poor patients and people in their houses, support them, and pray for them. When I go to school, I also take underprivileged children in my car and drop them off. I have not done anything wrong. It’s the perception of others, of the other nuns, that is a problem,” she added.

She continues to believe the real reason behind her expulsion relates to her opposition to Mulakkal. “The congregation targeted me only because I spoke up against Bishop Franco, because I supported the nun who was fighting for justice. Because I stood by her,” she added.

The bishop is now out on bail, and the case against him is being heard in a Kottayam court.

Kalappura said she was tired of hearing the words obedience and disobedience for the past one year. “Obedience is not just about shutting one’s eyes and saying ‘yes’. I’m so tired of explaining that I simply don’t want to talk about these allegations against me regarding the car, the books I published, the music CD I created. How is that wrong if I’m using it for God’s work, which is my duty as a nun? The CD has worship songs that I wrote by myself,” she asserted.

The nun has received a lot of love and support from several quarters, especially from the members of the Forum, an association of progressive members of various religious congregations.

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