Kottayam: The police on Friday registered a case against a Christian religious congregation in Kerala for publicising the picture of a rape survivor nun.
The police are investigating the nun's complaint of sexual abuse against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The congregation, Missionaries of Jesus, had constituted an inquiry commission to probe the nun's charges. The congregation had on Friday released the survivor's photo to the media along with an internal inquiry report.
Sources said the congregation's act was violative of the laws which banned publicising the details, including photo or name, that could reveal the identity of a rape survivor.
The report and photos were released to media houses by the order's public relations officer, reportedly with a rider that it should not be published. The congregation also issued a disclaimer that Missionaries of Jesus would not be responsible if the photo, showing the survivor nun and the accused bishop in an 'amiable disposition' at a house-blessing function, is published in a 'recognisable manner.'
The report accused that the nun and five other nuns in the same congregation conspired against the Jalandhar bishop and that they received help from four outsiders. It went on to say that the nuns were influenced by rationalists and the visitor's register was tampered with multiple times.
The congregation also claimed that the bishop had indeed dined at the convent at Kuruvilangad, near Kottayam, on May 5, 2016 but he did not stay there that night. According to the complaint filed by the survivor, the nun was attacked the first time on this night at the convent.
The nun's complaint
The nun had accused the powerful clergyman of sexually assaulting her 13 times between 2014 and 2016, a charge denied by him.
The nun's complaint gave way to a never-before protest by some nuns demanding the arrest of the bishop. The protesting nuns also said 20 nuns had left the convent in the past five years due to different instances of abuse, but none spoke up.
"We are not against the church. We are not against the church rules. We still accept the sacraments and we are not against it. We will continue our protest till we get justice," a nun told reporters at the venue of their sit-in outside the High Court in Kochi.
The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) had slammed the nuns' protest, saying that it had 'crossed all limits.' It also noted that both the complainant nun and the accused Bishop were members of the Catholic family and 'the church shared their wounds and agony.'
The abused nun had recently sought the urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded that the Bishop be divested of his responsibilities. She also questioned why the Church was 'shutting its eyes to the truth' even when she had mustered courage to go public about her sufferings.