A 60-year-old nun deposing as a witness in the sexual abuse case filed against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal allegedly came under tremendous pressure to withdraw her police statement until the court finally came to her aid on Tuesday.
According to Save Our Sisters (SOS), an umbrella organisation of several church-based reformation groups, the nun was intimidated by superiors after being transferred to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago. "The nun in question was not even allowed to speak to her family. Initially, she was not allowed to visit her mother in a rural Ernakulam hospital. They later relented, but let her go only in the company of two senior nuns. Everybody from the provincial superior to the mother general has tried to pressurise her into withdrawing her statement before the police," Shaiju Antony, joint convenor of SOS, told mediapersons.
Mr Antony claimed that the nun knew about such instances of sexual abuse even before the case was filed. "We want action against the provincial superior," he said.
The matter first came to light when a nun accused Bishop Mulakkal of sexually assaulting her on 14 occasions from 2014 to 2016. SOS has been supporting her as well as other sympathetic nuns ever since.
After the elderly nun's brothers filed a police complaint stating that she was not being allowed to speak or meet family members, a local court ordered on Tuesday that the church permit her to stay with her ailing mother. Police filed a case of illegal confinement, after which the court ruled in favour of the nun. Neither she nor her family were willing to speak to the media.
The elderly nun belongs to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation under the Catholic church. The same congregation is said to have repeatedly sent warning letters to another nun who has been campaigning against Bishop Mulakkal.