Sister Lucy’s Memoir Uncovers Church’s Sexual Abuse Epidemic
Sister Lucy Kalappura, who was outcasted by the Kerala church congregation after she supported the nun who alleged sexual abuse by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar, is all set to release her autobiography on December 10. The book is titled Karthaavinte Naamathil (In The Name of The Lord), and it is published by DC Books. Through the book, Sister Lucy has bared it all about the rampant sexual abuse that takes place in the church and how the power structures work to guards those who are perpetrators of sexual abuse.
“There used to be a priest who taught at a college and resided near a convent. He used to have a room for himself at the convent. The priest, who used to conduct counselling on safe sexual practices, did not restrict himself to mere counselling as far as the nuns were concerned. Fed up with his “practical” sessions, one of the nuns complained to her friend. But he too was helpless. The torture ended only when he retired and left the place.”
“The experiences I know of, that some of my sisters have been through, are horrendous. I am aware of some convents, where young novice nuns are sent to priests for their ‘pleasure’ as a matter of practice. They were made to pose nude for the priests for hours. They wouldn’t be permitted to leave even when they plead,” writes the nun in the book, TNIE reported.
In this no-bars-held book, Sister Lucy delves in the gender-biased nature of the vows priest take which does not dissuade them from enjoying any of the materialistic pleasure.
“It’s with priests that a majority of nuns have a relationship, this is against the thoughts of Christ. These relationships flourish because of the status enjoyed by the clergy in all walks of life. Several of my fellow nuns have such relationships. There are several instances of priests maintaining power over nuns. I have heard stories of them having regularly engaging in sex,” an excerpt published by Malayalam weekly Samakalika Malayalam Varika reads.
Apart from the sexual abuse that priests subject nuns to, she also exposed the culture of homosexual encounters both senior nuns and priests force on young nuns and priests. “There are also cases where young nuns are subjected to homosexuality in convents by senior nuns. Fighting mental dilemma, the nuns have to silently carry these crosses within the four walls of their convents. They are also constantly stalked by so-called ‘counsellors’ who exploit their predicament,” she writes.
In another account, she says, “A priest, fresh out of the Seminary, and subjected to homosexuality at the priests’ residence, grew mentally ill and finally gave up the priesthood in disgust. Similar was the case with a novice priest, who recently narrated his tale to me. One of the office-bearers of the seminary forced himself upon the young boy, and when he resisted, tied him to the bedpost and satisfied his lust.” The 36-chapter-long book narrates of many such incidents that claims to expose the explicit nature of sexual abuse taking place within the periphery of the church.
Talking about her book, Sister Lucy told TNM, “I am fed up of talking about this over and over again to the media. What I have written is not something new, this is what I’ve been saying from the beginning.”
Earlier in 2009, Sister Jisme had also written a similar book titled Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun. In that book too, she wrote about how young nuns fall prey to sexual abuse by the senior bishops and priests.
Fed up with his “practical” sessions, one of the nuns complained to her friend. But he too was helpless. The torture ended only when he retired and left the place.
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) expelled Sister Lucy this year in August after threatening her for months before that. She belonged to the Mananthavady Diocese in Wayanad. The reason to expel her from the congregation as given by the convent is pointed towards her ‘lifestyle’ which comprised of learning how to drive, writing and publishing her poems, etc. While these practices were a part of her lifestyle for a long time, the decision from the FCC came after she protested against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused in a case of rape by Sr Lucy’s fellow nun.