Vatican rejects Kerala nun Lucy Kalapura’s final appeal against dismissal

Sister Lucy, 56, has been dismissed from her congregation Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) in May 2019, on charges of “violation of the vows of obedience and poverty”.

Kerala’s rebel Catholic nun Lucy Kalapura, who hit headlines by taking on a Bishop allegedly accused of raping a nun, was told to vacate her convent after the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church in the Vatican, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, rejected her appeal against the dismissal.

Sister Lucy, 56, has been dismissed from her congregation Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) in May 2019, on charges of “violation of the vows of obedience and poverty”. In the same year, she had appealed to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which rejected the same in September 2019. Later, Lucy moved a final appeal with the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican, which is the highest point of appeal for a clergy for justice within the Church.

Reacting to the dismissal of her appeal, Lucy said she would not vacate the convent (at Karakkamala village in Wayanad district). “I would seek justice in the Indian legal system. I had petitioned the local court, which has temporarily stayed the congregation order to vacate the convent. The petition is still pending in court. I would not vacate the convent at any cost,’’ said the nun, who had retired as a teacher of a government-aided school in Wayanad.

Lucy had a strained relation with her superiors since 2015, but it reached a flashpoint and came to the fore in September 2018 when she took part in a public agitation of nuns in Kochi, demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is an alleged accused in a case pertaining to the rape of a nun belonging to Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus. During the nuns’ agitation, Lucy had published articles in non-Christian publications and had raised critical comments in social media sites, which the authorities felt as belittling the Church and its clergy.

The nun had locked horns with her congregation on several occasions. The Church had pulled her up for not sharing her government salary (as a school teacher) with her congregation. She bought a car and got it registered in her name, which the congregation found in violation of its laws.

The chargesheet included that she had also published a handful of her poems as a book, even after the superior denied permission for the same. The nun bought a Maruti Alto car with a vehicle loan obtained as a salaried person. This action amounted to violation of the vow of obedience as per the congregation.

The FCC superior-general, in her order to Lucy to vacate the convent, said “your entry into that convent and your continued occupancy of the room allotted to you was lawful, till your dismissal. However, after your lawful dismissal, you have no more right within the FCC and hence your further stay within the FC Convent Karakkamala is clearly unlawful and hence, I hereby order you to vacate the convent, after having handed over to the Local Superior of that community the FCC religious habits that you possess and anything else that belongs to the FCC but in your possession now, within one week from the receipt of this letter. Legally speaking, as per the Proper Law of the FCC, any further continuation within that convent, beyond the permitted time, will be considered as Criminal House Trespass.’’

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