Sister who questioned church on rape accusation is expelled by her community in India

Editor's note: This story was previously published on Matters India, a news portal that focuses on religious and social issues in India. Global Sisters Report has a collaboration with Matters India.

The Franciscan Clarist congregation has expelled Sr. Lucy Kalappura, one of its members who had questioned the official church's indifference to a nun who says a Catholic bishop raped her.

In an Aug. 5 letter to Kalappura, the superior general of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar congregation says the nun had been given "the required canonical warnings" but failed to show "the needed remorse" or "give satisfactory explanation" for her lifestyle that violated "the proper law" of the congregation.

Kalappura, a 54-year-old school teacher, told the media on Aug. 7 she was given the order earlier in the day. She also said the superior general did not give her time to read the order and got angry when asked for time to understand its implications.

"I cannot leave the convent immediately. Will try to move legally against the order," she added.

Kalappura angered her superiors and church leaders when she joined a group of Missionaries of Jesus in September to protest the alleged rape of their former superior general by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar.

However, the congregation cited other reasons for expelling Kalappura. She was accused of buying a car without getting the required permission from her superiors and violating other rules of the congregation.

The superior general, Sister Ann Joseph, has given Kalappura 10 days to appeal the dismissal order.

"In case you decide to make recourse to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the decree of dismissal will have suspensive effect," Sister Ann Joseph's letter says.

If Kalappura accepts the "decree of dismissal," she has to leave the convent where she currently lives within 10 days after "having handed over your religious habit to the superior of your local community."

The superior general also suggested Kalappura could write directly to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches or forward it through the New Delhi-based apostolic nunciature. The superior general offered to transmit Kalappura's letter to the Vatican congregation through the nunciature.

Kalappura was given a copy of the dismissal order, the Vatican congregation's letter confirming her dismissal, and a copy of the letter from the nunciature in addition to the superior general's letter.