Kerala Church deal with nun
The Catholic Church in Kerala will pay Rs 12 lakh to help a nun "settle herself in life'' after she alleged that she was tortured and expelled from her convent for resisting the advances of a priest.
- Published 30.03.15
March 29: The Catholic Church in Kerala will pay Rs 12 lakh to help a nun "settle herself in life'' after she alleged that she was tortured and expelled from her convent for resisting the advances of a priest.
Reformation campaigners in Kerala said this was probably the first time in the history of the Church that a nun was being paid although some instances of child abuse victims being compensated had been reported abroad.
The payment promise was the outcome of talks between representatives of the nun and the spokesperson for the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Paul Thelekkat.
Under the arrangement, the 40-year-old nun has agreed to return her robes. She had earlier threatened to hold a sit-in outside her convent - the Sisters of St. Agatha convent in Aluva near Kochi - which had refused to take her back on her return from Italy on February 20.
In an email response to The Telegraph , Thelekkat said an amicable settlement had been reached, adding that the objective was to help her settle in life. He termed the allegations of torture and sexual harassment untrue.
"The issue with Sister (name withheld by this newspaper) is settled very amicably on Saturday giving her 12 lakhs to help her to settle herself in life. She did not tell me of any torture in the convent.
"The convent authorities took a decision that she is not fit for a convent life. The same congregation is giving her some help to settle her in life. The stories of torture and sexual harassment are not at all true and she does not hold any such grievances," Thelekkat said.
The nun could not be reached today for comment.
Reji Njallani, the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement convener who had fought alongside the nun, said: "This is perhaps the first time in history that the Church is paying compensation to a nun. I'm happy that we could achieve at least this much."
But a rights activist once associated with the Church has questioned the settlement.
"The Church may claim it is a living allowance, but in reality it is to seal the nun's mouth - to ensure that she does not speak out any more,'' said Jesme, a former nun who had walked out of her congregation Church in 2008, alleging "physical and mental abuse''.
"Even when I quit, well-wishers had advised me to ask for compensation. But I think the honour of a woman who dedicated herself to a spiritual life in the faith that it was safe is worth much more than a few lakhs of rupees,'' she added.
The St. Agatha convent nun, who hails from Kannur in northern Kerala, had earlier alleged that she was turned back from the convent after her return from Italy.
The nun had said her ordeal started while she was posted in Madhya Pradesh when she resisted the sexual advances of the priest.