Nuns in India Are Not Emancipated Women: Cardinal

Indian Catholic
March 18, 2009

KOCHI: A biography on Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) says nuns in India are not emancipated women and they are often kept under submission by the fear of revenge by priests.

Cardinal Vithayathil’s outspoken view on nuns appear in ‘Straight from the Heart,’ a biography on him penned by Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church and editor of Sathyadeepam.

The biography says nuns in India are humiliated by priests and they live in fear and time has come to free the nuns from the "pitiable situation'' they are in.

"I would say to a great extent our nuns are not emancipated women. They are often kept under submission by the fear of revenge by priests. That's how the priests get away with whatever humiliation they heap upon them. It is a pitiable situation from which somebody has to liberate them,'' says the 82-year-old cardinal.

The biography says: "A big complaint of our nuns is that the diocesan priests are treating them like servants, making them wash their clothes, prepare their food, wash the churches, etc and that too without getting paid. These are all unjust ways of treating the women religious.''

About the criticism against the clergy in the controversial Sister Abhaya murder, Cardinal Vithayathil, who is the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly says the Church had not tried to hide anything in the case. "The Church does not want to protect anyone.''

The Cardinal is in total disagreement with the tendency of the Roman Curia to impose its decisions on bishops, often taken without adequate consultation, although he meekly accepted them.

The Major Archbishop says “I better not say more on this subject in public because it has agonised me many times, not only me but also many of our other bishops. I know the feelings of my fellow bishops. We are all going through a sort of crucifying obedience.”

His vow of obedience had restrained him from reacting to the decisions of the Rome on certain social issues. For instance, he does not think that the Pope or the Church has the right to decide on the number of children a couple should have.

In the book, the Cardinal is very proud of the historic contribution of the Catholic Church to the educational progress in Kerala over the past several decades. Yet he is not happy with the goings on in many Church-run institutions.


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