Order may censure for disobedience nun who protested rape-accused bishop

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The superior general of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation issued last week a letter of warning to Sister Lucy Kalapura, who has been accused of several acts of disobedience, including a protest of the handling of a nun's accusation that a bishop serially raped her.
Sr. Ann Joseph sent the Jan. 1 letter to Sr. Kalapura asking that she appear before her Jan. 9 to explain the alleged disobediences, or face expulsion from the congregation.

“I have received many allegations against you and have witnessed some of them,” Sr. Ann Joseph wrote, according to The News Minute. The allegations include leading a life “against the principles of religious life” and “against the rule and constitution of the Franciscan Clarist congregation.”

Sr. Kalapura is accused of disobeying a transfer order, publishing poems after having been denied permission to do so, buying a vehicle, withholding her salary from the congregation, and participating in a protest against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur.

Bishop Mulakkal has been accused by a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus of sexually assaulting her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested Sept. 21, 2018, but was released on bail. A police investigation is ongoing, and the bishop has been temporarily removed from his responsibilities as Bishop of Jullundur.

Several nuns began protesting in Kochi Sept. 8, 2018 how both police and the Church had responded to the accusation against Bishop Mulakkal.

Sr. Ann Joseph's letter says that Sr. Kalapura joined the Kochi protest Sept. 20 “without the permission of your superior. You have published articles in some non-Christian newspapers and weeklies … gave interviews to 'Samayam' without seeking permission from the provincial superior. Through Facebook, channel discussions and the articles, you belittled the Catholic leadership by making false accusations against it and tried to bring down the sacraments. You tried to defame FCC also. Your performance through social media as a religious sister was culpable, arising grave scandal.”

The letter also says Sr. Kalapura has failed to obey a transfer order given her in 2015 by her provincial superior, and that she published a book of poems despite being denied permission to do so, and used 50,000 Indian rupees ($700) from the congregation's account “without proper permission” to do so.

Sr. Kalapura is also accused of buying a car for about $5,670 and learning to drive without permission, and failing to entrust her salary from December 2017.

Sr. Ann Joseph called these acts “a grave infringement of the vow of poverty.”

The superior general added that Sr. Kalapura has been corrected and warned several times by her provincial over her “improper behaviour and violations of religious discipline.”

“Instead of correcting yourself, you are simply denying the allegations against you stating that you have to live your own beliefs, ideologies and conviction. You are repeatedly violating the vows of obedience and poverty. The evangelization and social work you do should be according to the FCC values, principles and rules. The present mode of your life is a grave violation of the profession you have made,” Sr. Ann Joseph wrote.

The News Minute reported that Sr. Kalapura has responded to the letter by claiming it intends to silence her: “The church leadership has been trying to silence whoever questions their actions.”

With regard to her book of poems, she said that “after repeatedly asking for permission, since 2016, they refused to consider my request.”

She also stated: “I have always wholeheartedly offered my salary to the Congregation. However, when I requested the Superior for some money to buy a car to travel for my social works, they denied it. When I was completely denied my benefits, I was determined to take a loan and buy the car. I do not consider it as a violation. In fact, the congregation has violated my rights.”

Sr. Kalapura told The Indian Express: “I don’t think my acts, as mentioned by the Catholic Church in its notice, are wrong. If I’d known they were wrong, I would have never committed them. I did them knowing fully well that they are right. I have no clarification to give regarding that matter. We will see what happens.”

Fr. Augustine Vattoly, another protester against Bishop Mulakkal, has also been warned over his participation.

He prohibited in November for organizing and attending a dharna, or non-violent sit-in, by Bishop Jacob Manathodath, in his capacity as Apostolic Administrator of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly.

“I am told that such actions by a priest will seriously injure the good of the church in public and will cause scandal among the faithful,” Bishop Manathodath wrote, according to Indian magazine The Week.

“It is reported that you celebrate Holy Qurbana (Mass) only rarely and your public expression of priestly prayer life and faith is in question. Daily celebration of Divine office and Qurbana is strongly encouraged by ecclesiastical norms... It is reported that you are not commemorating the name of the Major Archbishop in the Divine Liturgy and in the Divine praises. Its violation is punishable in accordance with the Canon Law,” the letter continued.

Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, has been accused of receiving the nun's complaint against Bishop Mulakkal in March 2018, and failing to report it to the police.

On Oct. 22, Fr. Kuriakose Kattuthara, who testified in support of the nun's claims, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Foul play has been alleged by members of the priest’s family, but a final autopsy report has not yet been reported.

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