In a surprising twist to the transfer of five nuns, stayed by the Pope-appointed Jalandhar diocese administrator Bishop Agnelo Gracias, the diocese questioned it and asked the nuns to abide by the transfer order. It took hardly a few hours for the diocese to question the administrator's order.
Bishop Gracias cancelled the transfer order of the nuns involved in the public protest demanding the arrest of former bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun.
The order to let the nuns stay at the convent in Kuruvilangad till the court proceedings against Franco are over, created fissures in the Jalandhar diocese. Diocese PRO Peter Kavumpuram said this was unprecedented and the administrator had no right in such issues. Moreover, it was not a transfer, but bringing some of them back to the diocese and would have to be obeyed.
Close on the heels of the nuns receiving Bishop Gracias’ order, Kavumpuram dashed off another letter stating that the nuns would have to abide by the earlier order.
Missionaries of Jesus had issued the transfer order to nuns who took part in the protest over a few days demanding Franco’s arrest. The nuns stood by their victim colleague, now residing in the Kuruvilangad convent. They had announced that they would not move out of the convent and stay back to support the victim nun. They had even petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
On Saturday, they received the order from the Jalandhar administrator, much to the embarrassment of those at the top of the congregation. But that was short-lived as the clarification of the PRO was what the Bishop meant was that they would not be ousted from the congregation. But that did not mean they would be allowed to stay at the Kuruvilangad convent.
Kavumpuram, who had filed a complaint against the victim nun's family earlier, said the running of the affairs of the congregation was vested with the Mother General. The apostolic administrator had interfered with the affairs of the congregation and so the order of the Mother General to the nuns “to return to their rightful communities is not cancelled but stays”.