A Nun’s Rape and a Priest’s Mysterious Death Jolt Catholic Church in India

The Diplomat

January 29, 2019

By Priyanka Borpujari

A Catholic nun has alleged that he [the bishop] had sex – natural and unnatural – with her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. Thirteen is believed to be an unlucky number… Billions of men and women copulate every day for reasons I do not have to explain. This has been happening right from the days of Adam and Eve. But a modern-day Eve finds it convenient to claim that she was raped when she is caught in the act.

These sentence, part of an article titled “Villains as Victims,” appeared in India Currents, a magazine run under the patronage of the Catholic Church in India. The sentiment within sums up the response of the Catholic Church toward a 44-year-old nun in Kerala, in India’s south, who has filed a complaint with the police against a bishop for raping her 13 times since 2014. Following a long-drawn process where the nun was first ignored and then threatened, the accused – Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the diocese of the northern Indian town of Jalandhar – was interrogated at length and then arrested. He was let out on conditional bail after three weeks.

A week later, on October 22, Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who had testified against Mulakkal, was found dead in his room.

Now the rape survivor and five nuns who have been supporting her are facing threats from their own congregation, the Missionaries of Jesus, of being transferred away from Kerala. The five nuns have been asked to join different convents across the country in a move to weaken their case against Mulakkal.

Christian institutions in India have been hushing up crimes at their altar, leaving scores of believers disappointed with their spiritual institution. In a case dating back to 1992, a Catholic nun was found dead in a well in a convent in Kerala. The local police had closed the case back then, calling it a suicide. The case was reopened by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and nearly 16 years later, two priests were arrested on charges of having an illicit affair with the nun. Last year, several persons were arrested in the alleged cover-up of the rape and pregnancy of a 16-year-old girl, who had been raped by a priest in Kerala.

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