- Organiser of "Save Our Sisters" campaign warned by church
- Catholic church not ready for dissent: sources close to Father Vattoly
- Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested and released on bail last month
A priest in Kerala who organised protests in the state after the alleged rape of a nun by a powerful Catholic priest was given a warning by the church. "Save Our Sisters", an umbrella organisation of various protesting groups, had organised a protest outside the secretariat building in Thiruvanthanpuram. Father Augstine Vattoly is the convenor of "Save Our Sisters".
"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. Therefore, I strongly prohibit you from organizing and attending the said Dharna and similar activities. Disobedience will incur ecclesiastical actions as per norms of Church law," a letter from Major Archepady of Ernakulam-Angamaly said. The letter was sent to the priest on November 11, three days before protest outside the state secretariat.
Massive protests were witnessed in Kerala in September demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal. Four nuns defying the church and joined protests despite their own congregation publically condemning them for standing up for a colleague.
Sources close to Father Vattoly told NDTV, "This letter shows how the Catholic church is not ready for dissent. Even the nuns are part of the church and and have been crying for justice. The higher authorities in the church don't realise that ordinary people in the church can see things through. Father Vattoli will be responding to the notice but won't react publicly at this point."
Franco Mulakkal was accused of repeatedly raping a nun between 2013 and 2016. He was arrested in September and released three weeks later on conditional bail from a prison in Kerala He was welcomed by his supporters with rose petals and garlanded when he arrived in Jalandhar.
The nun, in a complaint in June, alleged that she was raped by Franco Mulakkal 13 times, during his visits to a convent in Kottayam. The bishop has denied the charges.
Franco Mulakkal gave up his pastoral duties at the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus, weeks after the nun wrote to the Vatican.