KOCHI: A year ago, raising allegations of abuse against clergymen was considered an act of blasphemy. A 14-day protest launched by five nuns this day last year changed the narrative. Withstanding stiff resistance from the Church and their congregation, they managed to garner support of the general public which landed Bishop Franco Mulackkal of Jalandhar Diocese behind bars.
The protest was launched at Vanji Square in Ernakulam by Sr Anupama, Sr Alfi, Sr Josephine, Sr Ancita and Sr Neena Rose of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation who are residents of St Francis Mission Home, Kuravilangad.
“It was worth taking the risk by staging a protest. It was only because of the protest Franco was arrested and the trial of the case has begun now. We hope that the trial ends soon and the verdict offers us justice. Our fight was for justice which was denied by the Church. The investigation team and the appointment of the new prosecutor paved the right path for the case. Otherwise, it would have been influenced by the clout of Franco,” said Sr Anupama. The nuns’ protest, which was initially organised by Joint Christian Council (JCC) gained massive support with various women, including homemakers, joining their stir.
“Even our lives were in danger. We had to seek police protection to escape Franco’s henchmen. Our life in the convent is still the same. We live a solitary life,” said another nun who protested against Franco. Later, Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council was formed to voice the demands raised by the five nuns and several other nuns, who are struggling to find a platform to raise their voices.
“SOS Action Council was not formed just for the arrest of Bishop Franco, rather it provided a platform for nuns to stand up against the atrocities meted out to them. The existing by-laws of convents are a violation of human rights and therefore we are planning to take up this issue with the National Human Rights Commission,” said Felix Pulludan, convener of SOS Action Council.