Indian Catholic News

Nun protest has terrorist links, claim Kerala bishops

Syro-Malabar synod cites sinister motives behind demonstrations against Franciscan sister's dismissal.

Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, lights a candle on Aug. 19 at the start of the 11-day synod near Kerala’s Kochi city. (Photo provided)

The synod of an Eastern-rite Church in India claims that people linked with terrorists and anti-church groups are among those masquerading as protectors of a Catholic nun dismissed by her congregation.

The bishops in the Syro-Malabar Church in the southwestern state of Kerala said on Aug. 27 that Sister Lucy Kalapura's dismissal by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) in early August followed all canonical norms and was done with the Vatican’s approval.

“It is deplorable that external forces are exerting pressure tactics in the internal affairs of a religious congregation,” said a statement from the 11-day synod, which concluded on Aug. 30.

The synod, attended by 57 of the Church’s 63 bishops, was referring to the ongoing protests and social media debates by rights groups and some Catholics that the FCC had violated the 54-year-old nun’s rights when dismissing her.

“Anti-social elements, anti-church groups and groups linked with terror organizations” have joined together against the Church “masquerading as protectors of religious life,” the synod statement said.

It referred specifically to an Aug. 28 demonstration that some rights groups organized in front of an FCC provincial house in the rural district of Wayanad.

Sister Kalapura continues to live in her convent there pending a verdict in an appeal she filed with the Vatican against her dismissal.

The synod asked Catholics to desist from joining the protest, organized by Save Our Sisters, an interfaith forum that helps women in distress, saying it had been organized by different terrorist groups.

The synod also expressed concern over protests being organized against Christians, which they said threatened interreligious amity in the state.

Church officials told that they’re not making baseless allegations.

"These protestors are supported by some Maoist groups, who are under police watch. We have proof of them accusing and threatening the Church," said Father Noble Mathew Parackal, the public relations officer Manathavady Diocese based in Wayanad.

Synod has ‘no authority’ over SOS

An official of Save Our Sisters told that it had sought legal advice after the synod linked them with terrorist groups.

“These are serious allegations that will have far-reaching ramifications, especially when it comes from a responsible church body. It’s imperative that we legally challenge it,” said Shaiju Antony, an SOS joint convener.

He said SOS was not a church group and the synod had no authority over its members.

Antony said it had organized the protest to bring the attention of the world to Sister Kalapura’s basic rights. “You can’t just throw out a nun who has lived in a convent for 30 years in the name of disobedience,” he said.

Sister Kalapura says she was sacked on Aug. 5 for supporting last September’s public protests by some nuns against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who is accused of rape.

But the FCC says its records show that Sister Kalapura had been defiantly violating the rules of the congregation for at least five years and had ignored canonical warnings to mend her ways.

Moreover, it said she had violated her vows of poverty and obedience by spending her salary on unwarranted expenses, including buying a car against the orders of her superiors.

She continues to teach in a government-aided school.

Antony said her case was closely linked with that of the bishop accused of rape. “Some bishops in the hierarchy are bent on taking action against all those who protested” against Bishop Franco, he said.

“But it is a mindless move to bracket people as terrorists just because we stand up to question wrongdoings.”

Source: UCAN

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