Sister Kalappurackal, the Kerala nun who was expelled by her congregation on "disciplinary grounds", has said that she doesn't have high hopes from the Vatican, two days after she moved the Catholic Church against her expulsion.
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) had expelled sister Lucy after she "failed to give a satisfactory explanation" of her lifestyle "in violation of FCC laws". The congregation had issued several warnings to her after she protested against former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of raping a nun.
Speaking to Outlook over the phone from Wayanad, Sr Lucy said she was ready to face any consequences and will stand by her actions.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
You filed an appeal to the Vatican against the expulsion order. Do you expect a favourable outcome?
I have written to the Indian representatives of Rome requesting them to review and nullify the dismissal order by the FCC. The letter was approved by the Vatican representative in Delhi. I don’t expect positive action from the Vatican as the church has a poor record of delivering justice in such cases. They are in a powerful position in the hierarchy. Though many nuns wrote to the Vatican representatives about the rape-accused Franco Mulakkal last year, the authorities failed to take any action against him. That’s when the nuns approached the court.
Now my only solace is that I won’t be thrown out immediately as I have challenged the decision at the Vatican. I am seeking a court action too.
The Congregation has accused you of buying a car, publishing a book, poems, speaking on TV channels among other charges. How do you counter these allegations?
There is a 20 page-letter about my "misdeeds", and most of them are lies. Is it a crime to write poems, speak on TV channels and to drive a car?
They also allege that I allowed a person to stay in my room against rules. The truth is that when a 20-year old woman journalist visited me, I allowed her to stay in my room as the other nuns refused to open the guest room for her. In the letter, it sounds like it was a man who stayed over.
The FCC even sent a letter to your mother asking her to take you back home…
I am appalled that they sent an incriminating letter to my mother asking her to take me back. It hurts me the way they disrespectfully addressed my 84-year old mother. It’s a ridiculous letter wherein they discussed my salary and property. My mother is a strong woman and laughed at the charges.
You have been under pressure from several quarters after supporting the rape survivor. How do you keep the lonely fight on?
The inmates stopped talking to me after I took part in protests supporting the nun last September. The church has been issuing warning letters and show-cause notice since then. It has reached the climax now. They dismissed me on May 11 and have been waiting for the approval of the higher authorities. On August 5, they got the approval from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches through the Vatican’s representative in Delhi. The order was handed over to me on August 7.
Their main contention is that I opposed Frank Mulackal. First, they raised it as "disobedience" against the church. After I gave a fitting reply to it, they are now trying different tactics. I am not after power or fame, and I will continue my fight.
What would be your next step if the Vatican rejected your appeal?
Where will I go? They have to provide accommodation for me. I will continue to do my work even if I have to leave this place. I want to live and die as a nun. I have a strong emotional connect with Wayanad and the people here. I have never done any wrong in my life and I am ready to face any consequences.
You have been targeted for standing by the truth. Does it point to the decay in the system?
I am pained by the limitations in the system. We can’t work beyond limits. They will clip your wings if you grow beyond their shackles. They will bring you down if you try to rise. I have always questioned the wrongdoings inside and outside the church. What kind of ‘vow of poverty’ are they preaching while spending crores on a building? There are many things which we are not allowed to do and I showed them that it’s possible. And I am paying for it.
You have been getting overwhelming public support...
Yes, many people called up and extended support to me after I received the expulsion letter. I am overwhelmed by the love I received from the people I serve. It’s their love which sees me through this crisis.