Current AffairsIndiaThe Perspective By Savio

Is the  Catholic Church above the Laws of India?

The role of the Catholic Church in the Bishop Franco Mulakkal rape case has exposed the machinations of this religious institution and some its senior clergy members in showing scant lack of concern to the laws of the nation on grave and heinous crimes such a rape.

The Catholic Church prefers to maintain silence, support the accused rapist clandestinely and use subtle pressure tactics of mental and emotional torture to intimidate the victims and witnesses.

The Missionaries of Jesus – a religious body under the aegis of the Catholic Church in India – issued transfer orders to the four nuns Sr Alphy Pallasseril, Sr Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Sr Josephine Villoonnickal and Sr Ancitta Urumbil.

Their only crime in reality beyond the allegations levelled by the Church-body against them, is that, they stood and continue to stand in defiant support of the nun who accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape 13-times between 2014 and 2016.

This transfer order action by the Church is an attempt to divide the religious sisters and then individually resort to mental and emotional torture, expressed Sister Anupama to the

The Missionaries of Jesus is working under the masked guidance of the accused rapist Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

In the past the religious sisters congregation had openly slandered the rape victim nun and supported the Bishop, and from the looks of it, they will continue to do.

However, it is important to note that the transfer order issued to the four nuns is in violation of a recent Supreme Court directive:

The Supreme Court in its order dated December 5, 2018, stated the witnesses should be given protection under the Witness Protection Scheme.

Justices A K Sikri and Justice Abdul Nazeer had given the directive that “The Union of India, as well as states and Union Territories, shall enforce the Witness Protection Scheme in letter and spirit.”

The bench also noted a ‘Threat Analysis Report’ of the witnesses and protection includes preventing the witness from being relocated as also to see the witness and accused do not come face to face.

The witnesses can file an application for seeking protection order before the competent authority of the district concerned where the offence was committed.

The competent authority will be chaired by District and Sessions judge, with the head of the police in the district as member and head of prosecution in the district as member secretary.

The transfer order of the sisters, in this case, is a clear case of relocation and violation of the Supreme Court directive.

The Catholic Church at the onset of this case had chosen a path in violation of social ethics and laws of the country. 

They chose not initiate an inquiry into the accusations of the nun and neither did the Church leaders bother to report the matter to the police authorities.

In the month of June 2017, the victim nun met Rev. Fr. Joseph Thadathil – the Parish Priest of Kuravilangad Church and also Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt the Bishop of Palai Diocese. She explained to them about the sexual exploitation that she suffered from Bishop Franco from 2014 to 2016 and his continued torture through various means of intimidation because she took the courage to resist his sexual advances.

Under the direction of Bishop Kallarangatt and Bishop Vadakkel, Bishop of Ujjain diocese; she had then given a letter to Cardinal Mar George Alencherry – Head of the Syro-Malabar Church through Bishop Vadakkel by hand, on 11.07.2017.

She had also given the same complaint letter to Bishop Vadakkel explaining her mental agony and sufferings, and that of the other Missionaries of Jesus sisters under Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

On 23.11.2017, she met Cardinal Mar George Alencherry personally and told him all that she had faced from Bishop Franco. He heard her complaint but did nothing to address her grievance.

And in December 2017, since Bishop Franco was planning to trap her and her companion sister with a police case in Jalandhar; she in a telephonic conversation appealed to the Cardinal to arrange an appointment with the Apostolic Nuncio, so that she could explain her pain and misery. But she did not get any positive response from the Cardinal. He heard her once again but did nothing.

The nun even requested Bishop Vadakkel before she asked Cardinal Alencherry for a chance to meet the Vatican Representative of India (Apostolic Nuncio). He assured the nun that he will arrange a chance for her to meet with the Vatican Representative of India when the Nuncio came to Kochi in the month of October 2017. But he did not arrange a meeting.

So in desperation of January 28th, 2018 she wrote a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio directly and in her complaint against Bishop Franco, she clearly mentions about her rape, sexual exploitation, mental torture and police complaint filed against her in the Jalandhar police.

The letter to the Vatican Representative was personally handed over by Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil – the Bishop of Bhagalpur, who is also one of the witnesses that the Kerala police interrogated.

The nun waited for five months, but she did not receive any reply from the Apostolic Nuncio’s office.

Therefore on 14.05.2018, she decided to send letters to three Church Officials in Rome by courier. By tracking it, she confirmed that they have received it on 18.05.2018.

These letters were sent to the following:

  • Most Rev. Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaia Ferrer SJ. Prefetto Congreegazione Dotrina, Della Fede, 00120C’itta Del Vaticano.
  • Cardinal Ouellet Card. Marc P.S.S,Prefetto Congreegazione Per I Vescovi,00120 C’itta Del vaticano.
  • Pope Francis 00120 C’itta Del vaticano.

Thereafter she waited for more than a month but she did not receive any reply other than the delivery receipt of the DHL courier.

She made one more attempt on 22.06.2018 to the State Secretary. Most. Rev. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Segretario di statto 00120 Vatican City, which was received there on 25.06.2018.

On seeing all these police cases against her and her family members by the Jalandhar authorities, she was shocked and frightened.

She approached and spoke to the Archbishop Anil Couto. Metropolitan, Delhi Region during his visit to our community in Kuravilangad in May 2018, and later over phone, she and another nun narrated their mental agony and struggle.

But Archbishop Couto deflected the issue and he did nothing.

Like others,he gave her the e-mail ID of Apostolic Nuncio and asked her to write to the Vatican Representative.

On 24.06.2018, the same night itself, at 11.45 pm, she sent an urgent mail to the Vatican Representative in India.

Yet again she did not get any response.

Therefore on 28-06-2018, she filed a case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal with the Kerala Police.

20 nuns left the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in the last five-years, when Bishop Franco Mulakkal was supervising the functioning of the congregation.

Kerala police have confirmed to IndianExpose that there are two more complaints of sexual harassment by nuns against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The Vatican after 85 days of knowing about the ordeal of the nun and the act of rape by Bishop Franco Mulakkal finally told media that it would appoint a one-member probe panel to investigate the complaint of the nun.

This only happened because of the huge uproar in India demanding for justice for the nun and arrest of Bishop Franco.

The question that we as Indians and Christians should be asking is, if the nun did not go to the Kerala police, the crime of multiple rape and sodomy would have been hidden behind the secret walls of the Catholic Church.

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