THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sister Jesme likes long conversations. Too ‘talkative’ as she describes herself in a lighter vein. And if the point of discussion is the institutionalisation of faith or blatant abuse of power by the clergy, she goes that extra mile. Emboldened by the ‘spiritual’ endurance, as she puts it neatly, Jesme has been a staunch opponent of all the badder than bad things that prevail within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church- be it corruption or abuse of nuns by priests for sexual gratification.
Each time the 62-year-old propped herself up for a brief conversation- first in front of the Secretariat where a protest was organised against the alleged rape of the nun by a bishop and then in the hotel room where she was staying- she was bombarded by phone calls. From enthusiastic scribes to acquaintances- all calling to get her reaction on the rape allegation raised by a nun against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
“I’ve been getting calls even from nuns,” Jesme told Express as her eyes lit up. “They all appreciate me for taking a stand and bringing out these issues in public,” she said. How the times have changed! When Jesme chose to walk out of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel after 32 years of service as a nun, she didn’t come across much niceties. “But now things are changing. Nuns are coming out and they are getting support. The protest of nuns has become part of history.” However, she is doubtful whether the church hierarchy and the institution as a whole have undergone any positive changes.
“They (Church) belong to a different world and our perspective or words won’t reach them. They are in a glass house,” she said. “I won’t say the entire system has gone rotten. There are good clergymen too. But the rotten parts have gone beyond redemption. It’s become like cancer,” Jesme said. Jesme said the current situation warrants interference of Pope Francis and a Third Vatican Council should be called to interpret existing church rules in tune with the 21st century.
“The priests and nuns, who wish to get married, should be allowed to do so all the while carrying on with their church duties. The nuns should be given some financial freedom as their allowances are meagre and spending it won’t be a violation of the vow of poverty,” she said.
Sequel to ‘Amen’
Sequel to Amen- a controversial book that depicted Jesme’s life in the nunnery- will be out soon. Published by DC Books, Amen 2 is also expected to be a head turner. But Jesme says she is hesitant. “Amen was widely read as it dealt with a different world. I don’t know how people will take this one up. But my friends and well-wishers feel this one would be also well received.” Amen’s first part had earned her a lot of wrath and Jesme felt this time too there would be brickbats after the launch of the second part.