JULY 10, 2017
Nuns successfully fight Church fraud in court
The Little Flower convent nuns who took the church to court
July 23, 2012
Do nuns and priests have civil rights? The canon law and the Catholic Church say the professed people have no right to sue the Church. It took six brave sisters of Little Flower Convent, Narakkal (Njarakkal/Njarakal), in Ernakulam district, to prove it otherwise. They created history of sorts when they sued a Syro-Malabar bishop of the Ernakulam diocese and the priest of St Mary’s Church for criminal intimidation and forgery.
In the normal course, the sisters would have had to take up their problems with the ecclesiastical forums and, under the precept of obedience, listen to them. What made the sisters take this drastic step? The sisters run two schools and a poor home on three acres of land in Narakkal. From the late 1930s, successive parish priests of St Mary’s church had been helping them to manage the school. The sisters knew the priests collected money illegally as donations but they kept quiet for a while. In 1971, unknown to the sisters, the priest of St Mary’s church forged documents and transferred the management of the Little Flower School to the church. Then, after over 30 years, in 2007, the sisters were asked to shift their second school, St Joseph’s, to another location. They refused and filed a complaint with the department of education and were allowed to keep the school. But this riled the priests. Soon hoodlums, instigated by them, began harassing the sisters. They were not allowed into church, some of them were roughed up, and in one incident, were held hostage by over a hundred men. The sisters could not bear it anymore and sued the church. The lower court ruled in their favour but it has been appealed. Sister Annie Jaise says, “Traditionally, the CMC sisters, brides of Jesus, are quiet…but we had to stand up for the truth.”
Full details of the court case, etc. at a liberal site:
Gripping story of six CMC Sisters fight for Justice!
October 26, 2016
No justice in Njarakal
By Virginia Saldanha, December 26, 2010
The Gender Policy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) was released in December 2009. The Foreword was scripted by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, under whose jurisdiction the now infamous parish of Njarakal falls.
It states: “The Gender Policy took shape from the earnest desire of the women and men of the country to bring equality and harmony to all. It is based on the mutual understanding that both male and female are created in the image and likeness of the divine. It rejects all types of discrimination against women as being contrary to God’s intent and purpose.”
It is hard to reconcile this statement with the reality of the dispute involving the CMC sisters of Little Flower Girls High school and the parish priest of St. Mary’s Church Njarakal which has turned into a longstanding and festering sore in the Catholic Church in Kerala.
It began with the parish priest establishing claim to the school. In 1971 a forged document was furtively used by him to change the management and Educational Agency of Little Flower Girls High School to himself.
Later parish priests began to make arbitrary decisions with regard to the running of the school which upset the sisters. The dispute came to a head in 2001 when the sisters discovered the fraudulent agency of the school with the parish priest.
A regulatory council appointed by the Archdiocese clarified the ownership of the school with the sisters, but the decision was not accepted by the parish priest or the bishop concerned.
The sisters lodged complaints about the forged document and the illegal capitation fees charged by the parish priest.
Thereafter various tactics, including violence, were used to intimidate and pressure the sisters to withdraw their complaints and hand the agency back to the parish priest.
The Provincial even initiated drastic steps against the sisters by filing complaints in the police station and civil suits in various courts of law against the Mother Superior of the Narakkal community.
The whole issue raises serious questions about the position and role of women Religious in the Church and their relationship with the clergy and hierarchy.
I dare say that this is not the first time that such a dispute has arisen between the two.
Deprived of sacramental services
What is common is the form of punishment inflicted on the “erring” sisters by depriving them of sacramental services and maligning them in the community, making them butts of scorn and ridicule, to force them to capitulate to the wishes of the Church hierarchy.
But in the 21st century, it is heartening to see that there are women Religious who are prepared to stand up for their dignity and rights in the Church regardless of a culture and tradition of society designed to beat women into submission.
If we are to take the Gender Policy of the CBCI and the country’s commitment to the empowerment of women seriously, we will recognize that the sisters are only standing up for their rights.
But at what cost!
The Cardinal ends his foreword with “Let us strive strenuously to bring about the required change of mindset and attitude”
But it is clear nothing is being done to try and change the mindset and attitudes of the clergy, the bishops concerned and the people who continue to inflict mental and emotional violence on the sisters of the school community.
The parish has withheld spiritual services and for some time prevented entry of the sisters to the parish church. Other forms of coercion and violence are being inflicted on the sisters.
They were asked by their provincial to withdraw from the school. Their refusal has caused a split in their congregation, all in the cause of loyalty to the men in the Church.
Even more painful are the attitudes of the leadership of the CMC sisters who have ceded to the wishes of the bishop and the parish priest and have joined in to use various forms of pressure including mass transfer of the community.
Faithfulness to God not man
Should the leadership of women Religious be more faithful to their women members or to the male leadership in the Church? Our faithfulness is to God and not to man!
It is scandalous to find how sacramental and other services rendered by priests are used as a tool of power and intimidation.
It is shocking that the very leaders who run prestigious institutions behave in a manner that is unchristian towards their own community.
Where is the compassion and love that we claim as the ‘little flock’ to be the leaven that works to bring about the reign of God in our predominantly non-Christian country? Instead the Superior General directed the entire Congregation to conduct special prayers, and exhorts the sisters to follow religious virtues and bow down to the demands of the parish priest.
The power of authority in the Church is so strongly internalized by all that it even colours our judgment in issues of truth and justice.
The Njarakal sisters stand alone.
Even those within the congregation who see the injustice, do not have the courage to stand by them out of fear and bury themselves in silence for fear of being victimized, and alienated from the mainstream.
Is the Gender Policy being taken seriously by the leaders in the Church in India?
Time is beginning to tell!
The author is a feminist, liberal and pro-women’s ordination activist, but she has some valid questions here.
SOME RELATED FILES
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 01 (General)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 02 (General continued)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 03 (FR. ROBIN VADAKKUNCHERIL)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 04 (CORRESPONDENCE RELATED TO RAPES COMMITTED BY FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY VC)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 05 (PROFILE OF FR. JOBY KACHAPPILLY, THE ABSCONDING RAPIST PRIEST HIDING IN ROME + general)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 06 (FINAL NOTIFICATION TO THE INDIAN CHURCH)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 07 (INTIMIDATION AND BLACKMAIL OF RAPE SURVIVOR BY FR JOHN PUTHANPURACKAL VC)
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY INDIAN PRIESTS-CHURCH FAILS TO PUNISH GUILTY 08 (RELUCTANCE TO COOPERATE IN EXPOSING RAPE BY PRIESTS AND ACTIVE HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE SEMINARIES)
COVER-UP OF ACTIVE HOMOSEXUAL PRIESTS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY
FR GALI ARULRAJ HAS MISTRESS KIDS EMBEZZLES A MILLION POUNDS FROM BRITISH CHARITY BUT NOT DEFROCKED
FR JOE PEREIRAS BLATANT LIES ERRORS AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES
FR JEGATH GASPAR RAJ-IN PRAISE OF SHIVA-PRIEST INVESTS RS 15 MILLION, FLOATS COMPANY WORTH RS 100 CRORES
ARCHBISHOP OF MADRAS MYLAPORE-MURDER ACCUSED IS CHANCELLOR