An Indian nun who irked a religious order with her progressive views is fighting her expulsion from the community by seeking the Vatican’s intervention. She also plans to move a court to seek justice.
Sister Lucy Kalappura, in her fifties, was expelled from the Aluva-based Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) on August 5 for failing to explain her lifestyle which, according to the order, was against the principles of religious life.
On August 10, FCC (Franciscan cross pictured above) sent a letter to Sister Lucy’s ageing mother Rosamma listing her daughter’s acts of disobedience along with a request to take her back home from the convent in Karackamala in Wayanad, Kerala.
In her letter of appeal to the Vatican, Sister Lucy said she was dismissed from the convent for expressing her solidarity with the sisters of the Missionaries of Jesus who protested against the rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese.
Sister Lucy wrote that her protest in September in Kochi last year demanding the bishop’s arrest was misinterpreted by her superiors as an act of rebellion. She was not in any way challenging them or the Catholic Church hierarchy.
The plight of the “hapless nuns” moved her. She believed that unless the truth comes out, the rape case will erode people’s faith in Catholic Church and priesthood.
Although FCC has asked Sister Lucy to vacate the convent, the nun says she is not legally bound to do so since she has filed an appeal to the Vatican challenging its decision.
FCC’s decision is based on what it calls several acts of disobedience she did without seeking its permission.
The charges against Sister Lucy include protesting against the rape accused bishop, letting a person stay in her room overnight, publishing a collection of poems, possessing a driving licence, buying a car, bringing out a music CD, not following the dress code for nuns, not submitting salary to the convent, making media appearances, defying transfer order and summons and not showing remorse.
The congregation’s General Council on May 11 decided to dismiss her and conveyed it to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Vatican.
The nun’s sacking and the letter to her mother have caused outrage in Kerala.
For instance, FCC has failed to identify the guest who stayed with the nun overnight. This could be seen as a deliberate attempt to show her in a bad light.
Public and media find nothing wrong in a nun publishing a collection of poems or bringing out a music CD praising God.
Sister Lucy told media she bought the inexpensive car to do her duties as a nun more quickly and effectively. It helped her visit poor patients and others in their homes and pick up and drop off poor students studying at the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School where she taught math.
She defended wearing churidar-kameez by asking why it a taboo for nuns when priests wear pants and T-shirts.
As Sister Lucy awaits the word from the Vatican and prepares for a court battle, the public perception is that rules have to be changed so nuns like her who believe in human goodness and love can serve people better.