A former Catholic nun who refused to move out of her Indian convent has appeared in court to argue her need for police protection.
Lucy Kalapura represented herself at Kerala High Court after she said lawyers refused to appear for her.
She was expelled from the Kerala-based Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) last August on charges of disobedience and violation of vows. But she refused to move out of her convent saying she had no place to go.
The southern state’s high court in August ordered interim police protection for her following her complaint of physical threats to her in the convent.
When the case came up for hearing on July 14, the nun argued that her police protection should continue.
“Yes, I had to argue my case as my counsel refused to appear,” Kalapura told UCA News on July 15.
My argument was based on my facts and the situation in which I live rather than focusing on the legal intricacies
The court hearing was held online because of Covid-19 restrictions.
“My argument was based on my facts and the situation in which I live rather than focusing on the legal intricacies,” Kalapura said.
During the hearing, lawyers for the FCC brought to the court’s notice that the Signaturae Apostolicae, the Catholic Church’s top adjudicating authority, has affirmed the nun’s dismissal.
It means that she is not a member of the FCC and she does not even have the right and duty to wear its religious habit. She also has no right to live in the convent, they argued.
The judge reportedly asked her why she cannot move out of the convent and continue to enjoy police protection if she feels threatened.
“My prayer in the petition is for my protection, and it has nothing to do with my dismissal from the congregation,” Kalapura said.
Another petition challenging her dismissal is pending in a trial court in Wayanad district, she told UCA News. Until the court decides on that, she will continue in the convent, she said. If the court’s order is not in her favor, she will appeal against it.
Kerala High Court, however, reserved its judgment on the case of police protection.
Kalapura said he has been a nun of the congregation for 39 years. “If I am asked to suddenly leave it without making any alternative arrangement for my housing, where will I go?” she asked.
I want to utilize my challenges to encourage other women to boldly face their challenges
She also said he will argue her own cases in the future rather than depending on lawyers.
“Now I use it as an occasion to encourage more and more women to come forward to fight challenges like this,” she said.
She said hundreds of women are struggling without adequate support systems. “I want to utilize my challenges to encourage other women to boldly face their challenges,” the former nun said.
Kalapura claims she was dismissed because she joined a public protest in September 2018 in Kochi, Kerala’s business capital, demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who was accused of raping a nun.
Bishop Mulakkal was eventually arrested and is now facing trial. However, the bishop has denied the charges. According to him, the nun accused him of rape after he initiated action against her for financial irregularities.
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