Sister Lucy of the FCC has been served a canonical warning for ‘grave violations of her vow’ post her being in the forefront of the protests against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal. She speaks exclusively to The Lede on the issue.
By Rejimon K
Is writing a poem on nature, talking to non-Christian media, sharing thoughts on social media, learning to drive, obtaining a license or buying a small car, grave violations of vow and obedience for a Catholic nun?
It seems it is, as a canonical warning with the threat of dismissal has been issued to Sister Lucy Kalapura – a nun who was at the forefront of protests against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kerala – listing down the above said as ‘violations of vow’.
The canonical warning signed by Sister Ann Joseph FCC, Superior General of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) can be seen as an act of retribution against Sister Lucy for participating in the protests against Franco.
Franco has been accused of raping a nun belonging to the order of Missionaries of Jesus several times, between 2014 and 2016.
And finally, in 2018, Franco had to spend three weeks in the sub-jail at Pala before he got bail.
Though Franco was stripped of his pastoral duties at the Jalandhar diocese in Punjab, the Church leadership has supported him.
Sr Lucy and a few other nuns of the order had staged a hunger strike near the Kerala High Court premises in Kochi for weeks last year, demanding the arrest of Franco.
The protest was seen by the Church leadership as questioning and bypassing its authority.
The letter in possession with The Lede reads: “Your deeds on 20th September 2018 and on the following days were of most grave external scandal and harm to the Church and the FCC. You went to the Ernakulam High Court junction and participated in the protest held by the SOS Action Council on 20-9-2018 without the permission of your superior.
“You have published articles in some non-Christian newspapers and weeklies like Mangalam and Madhyamam, etc., gave interviews to Samayam without seeking permission from the provincial superior. Through Facebook, channel discussions and 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.
“These are grave violations of the vow of obedience,” the letter reads. “You cannot live your own beliefs, ideologies and convictions in FCC without respecting and keeping the values and traditions of FCC.”
The Superior General has asked the nun to come in person and meet her in Kochi on January 9 to ‘rectify her faults’.
The next canonical steps as per norms of law will be taken against the nun, the letter mentioned, if she fails to appear in person before the Generalate.
Talking to The Lede, Sr Lucy said that priests and nuns who wish to marry should be allowed to do so.
“Celibacy is impossible. It’s a biological need. Why does the Church want to supress it? If priests want to marry a nun, let them do so. It should be allowed, so that other nuns who want to be virgin and serve Lord Jesus can do so fearlessly,” Sr said, adding that sexual abuse is rampant in the churches.
“Some open up like I have. And others remain silent. Those who remain silent are going through a tough time. They suffer a lot,” Sr Lucy added.
Sr Lucy also said that priests create opportunities to sexually abuse nuns.
Sr Lucy belongs to the Mananthavady diocese, Wayanad, and has been in service since 1985. Additionally, she is also an aided school teacher since 1997.
“I have been giving all my savings to the monastery. It’s the rule. But when I need something, they make us beg. Isn’t it weird that they are issuing a warning letter because I bought a small car,” the Sr said.
In September 2018, Sr Lucy was reportedly banned from prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other activities of the parish, including offering holy communion, after she extended her support to the protesting nuns in Kochi.
Joining the protest in Kochi, she had said that the Church should be prepared to correct itself if any lapses had occurred, and expressed her unwavering support to the nuns seeking justice in the rape case.
At that time, believers in the church protested the ‘ousting’ of Sr Lucy. So the authorities of St Mary’s Church at Karakkamala in Kerala’s Wayanad district withdrew the disciplinary action taken against her.
The believers didn’t allow Church Vicar Father Stephen Kottakkal to leave the church until he withdrew the action against the Sr Lucy. In the wake of the believers’ outcry, the church revoked the ban imposed on Sister Lucy. Church Vicar Father Stephen Kottakkal said there was no restriction on Sister Lucy and she was free to continue taking her catechism classes as well as being part of the various activities of the church.
Meanwhile, while talking about the warning letter summoning her in person, Sr Lucy said that she has sent a reply citing inconvenience of travel due the workers’ strike.
“I am not going to give them a reply, as I feel that it’s not important,” Sr Lucy said while adding that they cannot expel her and she has not erred.