Indian Diocese, Government Order Separate Probes into Nun's Suicide

NZ Catholic

August 14, 2008

TRIVANDRUM, India (CNS) - The Kerala state government and the Kollam Diocese have ordered separate probes into a nun's suicide after her father accused convent authorities of harassing her.

The deceased nun's father, identified only as T. Pappachen, told journalists Aug. 12 that a senior nun was trying to sexually abuse his daughter, Sister Anoopa Mary.

The previous day the 23-year-old member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was found hanging from the ceiling fan of a convent room, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

Pappachen, 55, a cook in the residence of Kollam's bishop, said his daughter was assigned to wash other nuns' undergarments. He also said the nuns did not allow her to bolt her bedroom door, and she feared she would be dismissed from the convent if she did not comply.

When Sister Anoopa Mary spent four days in early August at her parents' house, Pappachen said she told her mother that the superior was trying to abuse her sexually.

Father George Rebeiro, spokesman for the Kollam Diocese, told UCA News Aug. 13 that Bishop Stanley Roman had ordered a diocesan inquiry to be led by Father Paul Mullassery, episcopal vicar.

Father Mullassery told UCA News the diocese "will make a detailed investigation to find out the truth. The church will not hush up the truth. We will complete the inquiry within one month."

The church "has nothing to cover up," he said, and the diocese welcomes another probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the country's top federal crime investigation agency.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government ordered an inquiry.

M.R. Ajith Kumar, Kollam district's police superintendent, told UCA News a local police team had begun investigations, but the police had learned about the accusations of sexual harassment only from the media.

"On Aug. 11, Pappachen made no such allegation when we took his statement," Kumar said. "Now that he has publicly made such an allegation, we will have to take his statement again. We will probe all aspects."

Father Rebeiro noted that the allegation came a day after the death. The day his daughter died, Pappachen had been with diocesan and convent officials in the convent until late in the night, "but he made no such allegation," he added.


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