By Matters India Reporter
Kochi, August 28, 2019: The Syro-Malabar Synod, the Oriental Catholic Church’s apex body, has justified the dismissal of a nun by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, and deplored what it says is the interference of outside forces in the internal affairs of a religious congregation.
The synod has urged the law enforcers to view seriously new forms of protests planned by those masquerading as protectors of the religious in collaboration with anti-Church groups, terrorist groups and anti-social elements, says a press release from the Church’s Media Commission.
The commission has come down heavily on the “Save Our Sisters” (SOS) movement that has threatened to demonstrate on August 28 in front of the Clarist convent in Mananthavady where Sister Kalappura now resides.
“The synod has asked people to refrain from attending the protest organized by various terrorist groups under the SOS,” says the press release issued by media commission secretary Father Antony Thalachelloor.
The SOS movement was launched in the second of half 2018 with Father Vattoly, a priest of Ernakulam archdiocese, as patron after a nun filed a police complaint that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar had raped her several times.
The SOS staged a sit-in near the Kerala High Court in Kochi on September 8, 2018, in support of the rape survivor. It led to the arrest of Bishop Mulakkal after two weeks.
However, the Kerala Church condemned priests and nuns coming to the streets to protest. Sister Kalappura had also taken part in the sit-in along with five nuns from the rape survivor’s congregation – Missionaries of Jesus.
According to the Media Commission, the synod has endorsed “the perfectly legal” decision of the Clarist congregation on Sister Lucy Kalappura, which the bishops say, was taken after completing all canonical requirements and with the approval of the Holy See.
Meanwhile an emergency meeting of SOS on August 28 said the synod has gone insane and dismissed media commission’s press statement as deplorable and baseless.
The SOS was started by a group of human rights activities who were anguished by the increasing atrocities against women in Kerala. The synod has warned Father Vattoly that the Church would view his leadership and participation in the protest as a serious case of indiscipline.
SOS clarified through a press release that Father Augustine Vattoly is no more its convener. “He has no connection with the current governing body of the movement. He is not its patron also,” the press release asserts.
The movement has threatened to take legal action against those issuing baseless statements against SOS, an independent organization with members from all religious and walks of life.
SOS dismissed as laughable labeling its members as terrorist, anti-Church and anti-social. “No Church has the right to comment on the matters of independent organizations in Kerala,” it asserts.
“It does not behoove the Syro-Malabar Synod to tarnish human rights and social activists in Kerala to save Bishop Franco,” says the SOS statement signed by its convener Felix J Pulloden.
It says the movement will go ahead with activities to protect women. “Safety of women is major concern of society. There is no religious or caste discrimination,” SOS asserts and laments that the Syro-Malabar Church has exposed its anti-women stance by threatening to take action against its members.
The synod began on August 19 at Syro-Malabar Church’s headquarters, Mount St Thomas, at Kakkanad, a suburb of Kochi, Kerala. It is attended by 57 of the 63 bishops from 35 Syro-Malabar dioceses. Among issues addressed are the controversies in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, the seat of its head Cardinal George Alencherry.
The Synod press release points out that Kerala’s religious major superiors had found the SOS’ activities bringing shame to their congregations. The former apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly had asked Father Vattoly to end his association with SOS, it adds.
“Those protesting the Clarist congregation’s action would face the Church’s disciplinary action,” the press release warns.