Nun, who exposed Bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her multiple times writes letter to Vatican city; seeks justice

September 11, 2018

A 44-year-old nun from Kerala who had exposed Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar of raping her multiple times has now written to the Vatican city seeking justice. In a seven-page letter written to The Apostolic Nuncio of India, Giambattista Diquattro – an Ambassador to the Pope detailing her pain and listing the names of all the people she has approached for help including the Pope himself. He further said that none of them including Nuncio have bothered to help her, or take action against the rape-accused bishop.

“From childhood we have been taught to believe that the Church is our mother. But in the light of my experience I am beginning to think that the Church is a stepmother to women and laity,” the victim nun said in a letter that was written on September 8.

Nun alleged that the bishop is a predator and has gone after several sisters, but no action has ever been taken against him. “I write this letter as a victim of sexual abuse who is seeking justice,” she added. The nun further wrote that she was scared of approaching her superiors with a complaint for the longest time.

Accusing the bishop of creating a hostile work environment for her, she says, “Though Bishop Franco had sexually abused me several times, I could not reveal the full story to my Superior General or to her Councilors. I only told them repeatedly that the Bishop is taking many disciplinary actions through them just because I resisted to lie down with him. As they failed to understand even the seriousness of these words, I could not tell them more than this. And I had the fear that Bishop Franco may harm me with the support of my superiors (sic).”

The Nun also added that she is not the only survivor. “There has been widespread concern about the bishop’s behaviour, especially after one instance, where the survivor hints that a young sister was sexually abused by him,” the victim added.

“Bishop Franco had always an eagle’s eye on few other MJ sisters as well. Whichever sister Bishop Franco felt attraction to, he tried to put them in his trap by force or taking advantage of their weaknesses,” the nun alleged.

“In this matter I can place a simple example of April 2017. One of our young sisters who had a close contact with Bishop Franco was caught by the authority with specific proofs for a serious error in the place where this sister was rendering her service. Then Bishop Franco asked our superiors to send her to another state where we have more than 3 communities, to a place where only junior sisters were there. Then in the same week itself, Bishop Franco made a special visit to this community and stayed there overnight. At night till 12 pm, this sister was alone in his room for ‘spiritual direction’,” she wrote.

The rape survivor said that several nuns have left the church because of the actions of the bishop in the last five years and the fact that the person who was abusive was also the only person in power has made matters worse.

“The loss of vocations from the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) during the last five years (20 sisters have left) prove that the congregational leadership has no solution for the problems faced by the sisters. The leadership team of the MJ sisters have only depended on Bishop Franco for all their problems,” she said adding, “Since I was one of the senior most in the congregation I could not speak openly to any of my sisters.”

Detailing how she was ready to leave the congregation in May 2017, but decided against it because of the love and concern of other sisters and some bishops and priests, she said, adding, “When I submitted my application for dispensation, all my four community members were ready to leave the congregation along with me and many others expressed to me their desire to leave Jalandhar Diocese and live in any other place with me as MJ sisters. Since I could not see the destruction of the congregation by losing so many vocations, I canceled my application for dispensation.”

But while she was concerned about how her actions would affect the church, despite the fact that she was facing violence, the church and its many authorities had little regard for her.

Meanwhile, the nun also listed out how Bishop Franco has filed multiple police complaints against her and her family, in order to threaten them. “I would like to bring to your notice the few attempts made by Bp Franco to hook us in different police cases,” she writes. In November 2017, the bishop filed a case against her and another nun, Sister Anupama, in Punjab, accusing them of threatening him that they will commit suicide. In June 2018, the bishop filed a case against the survivor’s brother, accusing him of threatening to murder the bishop. In the same month, the bishop also filed a case against six people, including family members and sisters who were supporting her – again, accusing them of threatening to murder him.

She also explained in detail about how she knocked on several doors for months, but no one was willing to help. To make it worse, most of the higher ups in the church did not even acknowledge her letters to them.

She said that under the direction of two bishops who were sympathetic to her, she handed over a letter to Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, the head of the Syro Malabar Church. Despite her raising concerns that Bishop Franco may trap her in false cases, there was no response from the cardinal.

“Though one of the bishops promised to arrange a meeting with the nuncio, that never materialised. In January 2018, she wrote to the nuncio explaining the allegations of rape, sexual exploitation and mental torture. Though the letter was handed over to the nuncio during a meeting in Bengaluru by Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil, the Bishop of Bhagalpur, she didn’t received any reply,” the nun added.

“Then in May 2018, she sent letters to three church officials in Rome including Pope Francis by courier. Though the couriers were delivered, there was no reply from any of them. In June 2018, she wrote to the State Secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin Segretario, but once again, to no response,” the nun concluded.

The letter was written on the same day when dozens of nun and priests came forward to protest against a rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal outside the Kerala High Court and demanded his immediate arrest.

In June this year, a 44-year-old nun staying in a convent in Kerala’s Kuruvilangad had made a police complaint claiming that Bishop Mulakkal had physically assaulted her. According to the complaint of nun, Franco Mulakkal, who is a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her 14 times.

Nun, who belong to an institution that functions under the Jalandhar diocese lodged a complaint before the Kottayam district police chief Harisankar. According to the nun, she had earlier complained about the incident to the Church authorities but no action was taken. However, she was forced to move a police complaint after the Church took no action on her complaint.

On the other side, Bishop Mulakkal has also filed a complaint against the nun in Kottayam police station in front of SP alleging that she was blackmailing him after he initiated disciplinary action against her, including transferring her from the present institution.

A month later complaint was registered, Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar Diocese tried to buy a silence of a 44-year-old Catholic nun who charged him of rape by paying her Rs 5 crores. An audio clip of the same has been released in public domain.

The audio clip revealed a Kerala priest mediating with the victim’s companion, who is also a nun, on the bishop’s behalf. The priest could be heard trying to convince the nun to ask her friend to withdraw the police complaint against Bishop Mulakkal and also promising the victim property and a better ‘posting’ in the diocese in return. He further offered a sum of Rs 5 crore.

Source : News Bharti

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