A nun who was expelled by her congregation in Kerala on disciplinary grounds earlier this month amid a controversy over the alleged rape of another nun has appealed against the decision before the Catholic Church in Rome. Sister Lucy, who now lives in Wayanad district, claims that she is being targeted for participating in protests against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
She has been relieved of all services as a nun by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
"I'm very afraid... they are killing me little by little, trying to take away all my happiness," she told NDTV. "My colleagues in the convent keep smiling, talking among themselves. They have completely isolated me. They don't even ask me to join them to eat or anything. I have come to terms with it, but it's still very hard."
Sister Lucy, in her fifties, says that she will also move court in two weeks' time to seek justice.
The reasons stated by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation for expelling the nun, as cited in the warning letters issued to her, were dress code violations, buying a car, disobeying the authorities, getting involved in large monetary transactions by publishing a book and bringing out a music CD, not submitting her salary to the convent, and making media appearances since September 20, 2018.
The nun maintained that her possessions - especially the car - shouldn't have been seen as a violation of her sacred vows but as a means to better fulfil her responsibilities. "I have been driving the car only for apostolic work, to fulfil my duties in a better way. In the one year since I bought the car, which was the cheapest available in the market, I have been able to visit hundreds of poor patients and people in their houses, support them, pray for them. When I go to school, I also take underprivileged children in my car and drop them off. I have not done anything wrong. It's the perception of others, of the other nuns, that is a problem," said Sister Lucy, who also teaches mathematics in a neighbourhood school.
The expelled nun believes that the real reason behind her expulsion relates to her opposition to former Jalandhar Bishop Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun on 13 occasions between 2014 and 2016. "The congregation targeted me only because I spoke up against Bishop Franco, because I supported the nun who was fighting for justice. Because I stood by her," Sister Lucy told NDTV.
The bishop is now out on bail, and the case against him is being heard in a Kottayam court.
"I'm tired of hearing the words obedience and disobedience for the last one year. Obedience is not just about shutting one's eyes and saying 'yes'. I'm so tired of explaining that I simply don't want to talk about these allegations against me regarding the car, the books I published, the music CD I created... How is that wrong if I'm using it for God's work, which is my duty as a nun? The CD has worship songs that I wrote by myself," says Sister Lucy.
Sister Lucy says that she has been getting a lot of love and support from people in her church and neighbourhood, although not all of them may be in a position to speak about it publicly. But John NH, a retired school headmaster, is quite vocal in his defence of the expelled nun. "Sister Lucy is a much-loved maths teacher, and children adore her. I believe that if they wanted to take action against her for buying a car, it should have been done when she first got it. Everything cannot be accumulated and brought out right after she joins the protesting nuns in Ernakulam to demand justice," he said.
Yet, Sister Lucy is far from reconciled with her situation. "It's frightening... I don't know whether I am safe or not," she told NDTV.