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Friday, March 1, 2024

Open Letter to Superior General Jesuit Curia Fr Arturo Sosa: Mary Rajasekaran is a victim of sexual harassment at Loyola College Chennai 


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Today is the death anniversary of the Founder of the Society of Jesus – St Ignatius of Loyola. Today is also my birthday. Incidentally my father’s name is Ignatius named after St Ignatius of Loyola by his mother.

I take this memorable day to express my extreme disappointing in the Society of Jesus. Let me state bluntly that Loyola as an institution is walking down a path away for spirituality and more towards evil.

Mary Rajasekaran is a victim of sexual harassment at the Loyola College Chennai. The sexual predator was a Catholic priest holding at senior post at the institution – Father Xavier Alphonse.

Her fault was exhibiting exemplary character and integrity in exposing Fr Alphonse embezzling money from the Loyola College Chennai and routing it to his personal family Trust. Her action in the interest of the Loyola College Chennai made her a target of a vicious and repeated sexual harassment by Fr Xavier Alphonse.

Mary Rajasekaran approached the Loyola College Chennai management in hope for justice but they only tried to pacify her not to approach the local police authorities to complain about her sexual harassment at workplace under the laws of India. Their only concern was the goodwill of the Loyola institution being questioned and soiled if the matter became public.

This nature of most Catholic Church institutions including Society of Jesus institutions is appalling and disturbing. The intent is only to save the reputation of the institution without a care or concern for the sexual harassment victim. No institution can be bigger than an individual; and no reputation of an institution can be greater than the human rights of a person.

Under the guidelines of UGC in India, every education institution must setup an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to investigate reports of sexual harassment. In the case of Mary Rajasekaran an employee of the Loyola College Chennai not a single committee was instituted to investigate her accusations of sexual harassment against Fr Xavier Alphonse. In fact Loyola College Chennai chose to transfer Fr Xavier Alphonse from the college instead of investigating the case.

Next week we will raise this issue up with UGC and petition for the cancelling of the license of the Loyola College Chennai for the violation of the strict UGC guidelines on sexual harassment at workplace brought by the Supreme Court of India order on sexual harassment at workplace commonly known as the Vishaka Judgement.

As an Indian, more so as a Christian. I have extended full support to the Mary Rajasekaran family in this fight for justice. I know that the Loyola College Chennai and some its priests assume that the Jesuit Order and the laws of the Vatican are more superior than the laws of India. We will ensure that false sense of power that the Loyola College Chennai assume it possesses will be demolished in India with this case.

We have petitioned to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on the issues of sexual abuses in Christian institutions. We have made the Mary Rajasekaran case as the pivot to the injustice meted out to a woman at a workplace in a Christian institution along with the Bishop Franco Mulakkal rape case of a 44-year old nun. We have demanded that the government ensures law enforcement oversee investigations into allegations and accusations of sexual abuse by Christian clergy and restrain by Indian law the Catholic Church conducting its own internal investigations and then a cover-up of most sexual harassment and sexual abuse cases.

I am aware that Mary Rajesekaran’s family also wrote to the Jesuit Curia in Rome last year and there has been some investigations conducted by the Jesuit Curia but as expected these investigations have not been made public and interestingly the victim Mary Rajasekaran was never spoken too about the sexual harassment case. So I am at a loss of words at the intent of the investigation and the sincerity of investigation conducted when the victim’s version of the incident was not recorded.

I had warned the Mary Rajasekaran family that the Jesuit Curia investigations would be a sham and a deflection from the truth. It will be like it has always been – a cover-up of the sexual harassment crime. Let me be brutally honest. I do not have faith in the Jesuit order ensuring Mary Rajasekaran gets justice.

Loyola College Chennai and the Loyola Alumni Association of Chennai have started a smear and shaming campaign of Mary Rajasekaran and her family. They are being targeted because they took the matter to the Madras High Court. A matter in court, in which both Loyola College Chennai and Fr Xavier Alphonse did not bother to respond to court notices for four years. Yet again exhibiting that Loyola College and the priest thinks that they have power over the laws of India.

Mary Rajasekaran will get justice. In the course of the battle, Loyola College Chennai will be shamed for displaying no respect to the modesty of a woman, displaying a lack of morals and integrity but most of all having no humanity to stand up for a woman who has been sexually harassed, a woman who was employed by the Loyola College Chennai for over a decade.

India will stand with Mary Rajasekaran. She is an Indian first then she is a Christian. If Loyola College Chennai stands in the way of justice for Mary Rajasekaran, then Loyola College Chennai will have to face the ire of the people of India and that would be a shame. It is after all claimed to be a reputed institute in Chennai and India.

My organisation All India Christian Forum has petitioned the National Human Right Commission in India and the National Commission of Women in India for justice the Mary Rajasekaran sexual harassment case.

The Jesuit Curia has the power to do the right thing and standup against a wrong. Sexual harassment is wrong and it is evil. Fr Xavier Alphonse cannot continue to serve as part of the Loyola institutions in India. He is a corrupt man and a sexual harasser of a woman. Loyola College Chennai extending support to him makes them equally guilty of the crime of sexual harassment.

The silence of the Jesuit Curia in Rome on the Mary Rajasekaran case will be condemned globally.

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