Kerala Nuns Speak Out About Decades-Long History Of Rape, Abuse By Priests


A nun partakes within the sacrament of confession on the Immaculate Middle of Mary Cathedral in Kottayam, Kerala on four November 2018.

KURAVILANGAD, Kerala — The nuns communicate of Catholic monks who driven into their bedrooms and of monks who confused them to show shut friendships into intercourse. Throughout India, they discuss being groped and kissed, of palms pressed towards them by means of males they had been raised to imagine had been representatives of Jesus Christ.

At its maximum grim, nuns talk of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to offer protection to them.

The Vatican has lengthy been acutely aware of nuns sexually abused by means of monks and bishops in Asia, Europe, South The united states and Africa, but it surely has performed little or no to forestall it, The Related Press reported closing yr.

Now, the AP has investigated the location in India and exposed a decades-long historical past of nuns enduring sexual abuse from inside the church. Nuns detailed the sexual force they persisted from monks; just about two dozen nuns, former nuns and monks, and others mentioned that they had direct wisdom of such incidents.

Nonetheless, the issue is cloaked by means of a formidable tradition of silence. Many nuns imagine abuse is common, insisting maximum sisters can a minimum of inform of warding off a clergyman’s sexual advances. Some imagine it’s uncommon. Nearly none discuss it readily, and maximum talk simplest at the situation that they now not be known.

However this summer time, one nun compelled the problem into the open.

When repeated court cases to church officers introduced no reaction, the 44-year-old nun filed a police grievance towards the bishop who oversees her order, accusing him of raping her 13 occasions over two years. A bunch of nuns introduced a public protest to call for the bishop’s arrest.

The protest divided India’s Catholic neighborhood. The accuser and the nuns who improve her at the moment are pariahs, remoted from the opposite sisters, lots of whom shield the bishop.

“Some persons are accusing us of running towards the church,” mentioned one supporter, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal. “They are saying, ‘You might be worshipping Devil.’ However we want to rise up for the reality.”


Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, left, sister Alphy Pallasseril, middle, and Sister Anupama Kelamangalathu, who’ve supported the accusation of rape towards Bishop Franco Mulakkal communicate at St. Francis Project House, in Kuravilangad, Kerala.

Some nuns’ accounts date again a long time.

Just like the sister, slightly out of her teenagers, instructing in a Catholic faculty within the early 1990s. It was once hard paintings, and she or he was once having a look ahead to time at a New Delhi retreat middle.

The nun is a forceful lady who has spent years running with the deficient. But if she talks in regards to the retreat her voice grows quiet.

One night time, a clergyman in his 60s who was once meant to be main the nuns in mirrored image went to a neighbourhood birthday party. He got here again overdue and knocked at her room. She may just odor the alcohol.

“You’re now not solid. I’m now not in a position to fulfill you,” she mentioned.

However the priest compelled his manner in, attempted to kiss her and grabbed at her frame.

Weeping, she driven him again sufficient to slam the door.

Later on she quietly advised her mom awesome, who let her steer clear of assembly the priest once more. She additionally wrote anonymously to church officers. The priest was once re-assigned.

However there have been no public reprimands, no warnings to different nuns.

She was once too afraid to problem him brazenly.

“For me it was once risking my very own vocation,” she mentioned.



Catholic priest conducts Sunday mass on the Immaculate Middle of Mary Cathedral, in Kottayam, Kerala. 

Stuck at this intersection of sexual taboo, Catholic hierarchy and loneliness, sisters may also be left on the mercy of predatory monks.

It may be in particular laborious for sisters from deeply conservative Kerala.

“While you develop up, while you get your first menstruation, you aren’t inspired to talk usually to a boy,” mentioned a nun from Kerala, a contented lady with sparkly glass earrings.

That naivety, she mentioned, may also be pricey.

Just like the time she was once a newbie nun, nonetheless in her teenagers, and an older priest got here to the Catholic middle the place she labored. He was once from Goa, every other coastal state.

When she introduced the priest his laundry, he grabbed her and started to kiss her.

“The kissing was once all coming right here,” she mentioned, gesturing at her chest.

“He was once from Goa. I’m from Kerala. In my thoughts I used to be making an attempt to determine: ‘Is that this the best way that Goans kiss?’”

She quickly understood what was once going down however couldn’t get away his grip. Sooner or later, she slipped out the door.

She quietly advised a senior nun not to ship different learners to the priest’s room. However she made no authentic grievance.

Within the church, even a few of those that doubt there’s in style abuse of nuns say the silence may also be enveloping.

Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara calls abuse “roughly sporadic. As soon as right here, as soon as there.”

However “many of us don’t need to communicate,” he persevered.


Senior nuns pray with others all through Sunday mass on the Immaculate Middle of Mary Cathedral in Kottayam, Kerala. 

The rapes, the nun says, took place in a small convent in rural Kerala, the place the sisters on the St. Francis Project House spend their days in prayer or taking good care of the elderly.

The rapist, she says, was once probably the most tough guy on this international: Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

Mulakkal was once the authentic patron of her neighborhood, the Missionaries of Jesus, wielding immense affect over its budgets and process assignments.

Each and every few months, the nun says, Mulakkal would consult with the convent. Then, in step with a letter she wrote church officers, he raped her.

Mulakkal angrily denies the accusations, accusing the sister of seeking to blackmail him to get a greater process.

“I’m going via painful agony,” mentioned Mulakkal, who was once jailed for 3 weeks and launched on bail in October.

Many in Kerala see Mulakkal as a martyr, and a string of supporters visited him in prison.

The sisters who now cluster across the nun who leveled the accusations see issues very otherwise.

“Repeatedly she was once telling him to forestall. However every time he was once forcing himself on her,” mentioned Villoonnickal, the nun, who moved again to Kerala to improve “our survivor sister.”

Catholic government have mentioned little in regards to the case, with India’s Catholic Bishops’ Convention announcing in a remark that it has no jurisdiction over person bishops, and the investigation and courtroom case will have to run their route.

“Silence,” the convention mentioned, “will have to not at all be construed as siding with both of the 2 events.”

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