Learning to drive, taking a loan to buy a car, publishing a collection of her poems. These are some of the charges listed by the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) of the Catholic Church in Kerala to dismiss Lucy Kalapura, the nun who hit the headlines last September when she participated in a protest by nuns demanding the arrest of a bishop accused of rape.
The decision to dismiss the 53-year-old was taken on May 11 by the FCC, which received approval from the powerful Congregation for the Oriental Churches on August 5 through the Vatican’s representative in Delhi. Kalapura was handed the order Wednesday. Read in Malayalam
“I have been asked to quit the convent within 10 days. But I am not going to vacate the premises. There are not only vows of obedience and poverty, but also of chastity. I have been a nun for the last 33 years. They can’t dismiss me like this. I will look at legal options after consulting a lawyer. I want to fight, as a woman I need security. I will seek police protection, if required,’’ Kalapura, who hails from Karikkottakkari in Kannur, told The Indian Express.
Kalapura is a teacher with a church-run government-aided school and a member of the FCC convent at Karickamala village in Wayanad. Last year, she was one of the prominent faces of the agitation by nuns demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is an accused in the alleged rape of a nun from the Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus.
In an email to The Indian Express, FCC superior-general Sister Anna Joseph said: “Dismissal of Lucy Kalapura from the congregation was necessitated because repeated warnings did not bring the necessary change in her lifestyle and she continues to live in serious violations of the vows of obedience and poverty, and many other serious violations were found juridically proven in her case.’’
Detailing its charges against the nun, the congregation said she had stopped handing over her salary since December 2017, and that she bought and registered a Maruti Alto in her name in July 2018 with a “vehicle loan obtained as a salaried person” in violation of norms and without permission.
It also claimed that she did not comply with a transfer order in 2015. And that she had published a collection of her poems as a book despite being denied permission.
During the agitation last year, Kalapura had published a series of articles in various publications and posted comments on social media sites criticising the congregation’s handling of the rape case.
In the email, the FCC superior-general said: “When one fails to live according to the law of the Congregation, the membership of the person within the Congregation is lost through dismissal from the Congregation. This is what has happened in the case of Lucy.’’
According to Kalapura, she had been “isolated in the convent community” ever since she took part in the agitation against the bishop. “Other nuns in the convent don’t sit with me at the dining table. The Church, including bishops, are united against me. Even laymen have not supported me, as they all want to be on the side of the Church authorities,’’ she said.