KOCHI: The Church in Kerala has been rocked lately with multiples allegations of sexual exploitation of laity members by clergymen and financial impropriety surfacing in various churches. In the latest turn of events, a nun belonging to a convent in Kuruvilangad on Saturday accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic diocese of Jalandhar of sexually exploiting her on several occasions since May 2014.
“What is more disturbing is the nun had earlier complained about the incident to the Church authorities. However, she was forced to move a police complaint after the Church took no action for nearly six months,” said Riju Kanjookkaran, convenor, Archdiocesan Movement For Transparency. Last week, a shocking allegation of five priests from the Niranam diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church using the confessional secret to blackmail and sexually exploit a young housewife came to light. ‘Confession’ is regarded as one of the seven sacraments of the Church.
The Church’s initial official response was to ask the priests to stay away from imparting official duties and not to invoke a criminal case against the accused. Earlier in the year, a Catholic priest from Pala diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kottayam was accused of raping a 42-year-old Bangladeshi native. An allegation of financial impropriety over the sale of Church land in Kochi against its supremo Cardinal Mar George Alencherry had led to a prolonged impasse between the clergy and the laity in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
Laity organisation files complaint
The Archdiocesan Movement For Transparency, Angamaly - Ernakulam Archdiocese, has filed a complaint to the Ernakulam Range IG accusing Cardinal Alencherry of sitting on the complaint filed by the nun for over six months. It said the Church tried to brush aside the issue by threatening the nun and later tried to settle it through mediation.
The former spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar church, Fr Paul Thelakkat, said the issue should have been settled a long time ago. “Since both parties have come up with contradicting statements, a thorough investigation will be conducted by the Church,” he said.