The Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) nun Dr Lucy Kalapura, who hit the headlines for coming out in public against the rape of a nun by a bishop, has been expelled from the congregation. The reasons cited against Sister Lucy Kalapura of FC Convent at Mananthavady in Wayanad were that she prima facie violated the "vow of obedience and poverty" she had taken while joining the congregation. The nun has decided to fight it out legally.
When for the first time nuns came out and joined a protest last year in Kochi demanding arrest of ex-bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal who was accused of raping a nun several times, Sr Lucy landed on the scene to express her solidarity. Finally, Franco was arrested, jailed and released on bail. His case is set for trial. But the congregation started tormenting her and was quick to issue her a showcause notice levelling flimsy grounds.
Among the charges were disobedience of a transfer order on May 10, 2015, from her then provincial which she failed to obey. She later published her collection of poems ‘Snehavaziyil’, even after being denied permission by the hierarchy. Ironically,, one of Malayalam's much-acclaimed 20th Century mystic poet Sr Mary Beningna, also known as Mary John Thottam, is still read and the Dravida University in Andhra Pradesh has a centre in her name.
She was accused of spending Rs 50,000 “which exceeds the amount that even the Superior General of FCC can use for extraordinary expenditure”. Her refusal to abide by the vow of poverty is that she spent money to learn and get a driving licence and bought a Maruti Alto car, among the now-available low-end four-wheelers, for which she had not been given permission. This is when priests and bishops travel only in high-end luxurious vehicles and blatant flout the vow of poverty.
Her reply was rejected and a fresh notice was sent by the Superior General in Aluva saying she would forfeit her right to self-defence if she failed to give defence in writing on or before April 16. It said all her replies earlier were "inadequate and unsatisfactory". A decision to expel her was taken in mid-May after the last showcause notice. It said: “The long show cause notice is to explain to you why we consider that you live in serious violation of FCC laws. Your FCC membership is contingent to your fulfilling obligations mentioned in the FCC’s constitution and directory.
You have rights, so also reciprocal duties, which when you disregard can invite consequences like dismissal. “If you wished only to preach the gospel of Christ and to evangelise as per your whims, you could have done that, even without joining the FCC. A hallmark of religious life in Catholic church is fleeing the world. As a professed member of FCC, you voluntarily renounced your right to wear any dress of your choice, freedom to bring anyone to your bedroom, your freedom to travel anywhere any time, to participate in TV discussions, publish books, articles etc...
You participated in TV programmes, published books and wrote articles, though nod of superiors is needed for all this.” She "wilfully violated the vow of poverty repeatedly", including by not handing over to FCC her monthly salary for her teaching ministry since December 2017, totalling ₹7.5 lakh. Sr Lucy has been given 10 days to leave the convent. She told the media that she refuses to accept it that she had done no wrong and pointed to wrongs inside. The action against her would only send a wrong message to the faithful, she said, adding that she would fight it legally. It is 'silencing the voice of truth', said Sr Anupama who led the protest by nuns.