KOCHI: Even when uncertainty looms over the authority of the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Jalandhar, Bishop Agnelo Rufino, in withdrawing the transfer orders, the nuns continue to stick to their stand.
“We are not leaving the convent and we refuse to accept the letter by Fr Peter Kavumpuram, the PRO of Jalandhar diocese,” said Sr Anupama, one of the five nuns who protested against Bishop Franco.
“The apostolic administrator of the diocese has the authority to decide over the transfer orders relating to the nuns and priests in the diocesan congregation. We don’t know the reason behind the letter issued by the PRO of the Jalandhar diocese. This shows that Bishop Franco still wields power,” said Sr Anupama.
However, it is learnt that the apostolic administrator will take actions against Fr Peter Kavumpuram for issuing the letter. Sources said Agnelo was unaware of him sending the letter and actions will be taken against him for doing so.
Meanwhile, according to sources, even when the Mother General takes the decisions regarding transfers in the congregation, she comes under the Bishop, who has the supreme authority to make decisions regarding the same.
“This clearly shows the power of Bishop Franco. The transfer orders of nuns were issued at the behest of Franco. It is a clear indication that he is the one who calls the shots and takes decisions over the proceedings. Otherwise, a PRO will not be able to issue such statements,” said a source.
The transfer bid
Earlier, the Superior General of the Jalandhar diocese transferred four of the nuns, Sr Anupama, Sr Josephine, Sr Alfy, and Sr Ancitta, to Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Kannur. Later the move was criticised as a deliberate attempt to separate them and weaken the case. The nuns were reluctant to obey the orders as they believed it was an attempt by Franco to destroy the evidence in the nun rape case.
Fr Peter Kavumpuram, PRO of the diocese, stated in his letter: “The Apostolic Administrator has not interfered in the internal affairs of this congregation. Therefore the order to return to their rightful communities by the Mother General is not cancelled, but stands.”
Meanwhile, the nuns have pinned their hopes on the government in supporting them in their fight for justice. “We cannot be forcefully removed from the convent. We still have hope in the state government that they will protect us till the probe is over in the case,” said one of the five nuns.