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On Behalf of the Nuns

Fr George Olivera, Mysuru

Mangaluru, Oct 11: In the recent not so happy events that occurred in the Indian church between the accused bishop Franco Mulakkal and victim nun – these are a few in between the lines reflections – post-mortem ruminations, and I want to title these reflections as ‘On Behalf of the Nuns’.

Any segment of the society Christian or otherwise has its own rules and regulations to define, defend, protect the members of its rank and file. But from the first day of the history of humankind – law favours the strong and then it protects the rest.

It is said in any dispute there are not two sides but there are three sides. For example, if there is dispute between A and B, there is the A side and then there is B side, and then you have the third side that is the Right side. When there is a dispute between the ecclesial members of the church, then there is the church law to give rightful dispensation of justice to its members. When the church justice fails, then the civil society enters to protect its members.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal 

It is sad irony that the church law is as old as the genesis of Christianity and it cannot dispense fair justice to its members anywhere in the world. The recent sex scandals that affect the overseas church and our inland church have seen similar situations. Since the church judicial system has failed to take care of delicate situation in more humane and prudent way, the civil judiciary system has become proactive.

In the overseas world, the atmosphere in the society is less polarized because it is mainly Christian and the affected parties are Christian. But in the Indian context, recent unpleasant developments in the church circles failed to be noticed rightly by the Indian church, and also they were magnified by secular media. In the very recent nun’s rape case, it is believed by many people that the church is backing the bishop who is in the legal tangle and the victim is backed by majority and the press. Recently Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that that real victim is the Truth in such situations.

Lessons are to be learned for our future times. Things can be better handled in our four-walled habitat of the church dwelling, by protecting our own ranks and file with fair justice in the parameters of the church law so that aggrieved parties could get fair share of justice and recompense and restoration of lost human dignity.

I take a stance to speak on behalf of the nuns because nobody officially speaks for them in the church. Nobody is guilty unless it is proved contrary in the court of the law. But to speak in support of one party and to ostracize the other party before the fair judgment given is not fair. Some of the letters written about the victim is not Christian in any way to read. What is needed is less of judgments and more of mercy that matters.

I recently came across a three-year-old column by then-Oakland, Calif., Bishop Allen H Vigneron, who is now the archbishop of Detroit, titled "10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian." He said that he wrote it while he was the rector of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit to help students "deal with the often sharp difference of opinion we find within the church."

1. The Rule of Charity: "Charity is primary." Whatever is said ought always to be offered respectfully and for the genuine service of others.

2. The Rule of Publicity: "Think with the mind of the Church." The criterion for deciding our disagreements is not one's own private opinions, but what the church thinks.

3. The Rule of Legitimate Freedom: "What the Church allows is not to be disallowed." This rule means that in situations where the Church says that a variety of views or opinions is legitimate, I should not impose my option as a mandate on others.

4. The Rule of Catholic Freedom: "There's something for everybody, but not everything is for everybody." God has given gifts of grace in an almost dizzying variety. Nobody has to live the Christian life exactly the way I do.

A group of priests supported the protesting nuns in Kerala recently

5. The Rule of Modesty: "Not all of my causes are God's causes." It's right to embark on projects with a zealous desire to give God glory, but I have to remember that there are cases when it's not God's will for everyone else to join me.

6. The Rule of Integrity: "To do evil in order to accomplish good is really to do evil." If, in the service of Christ, I act in an un-Christian way, I become a highly effective ally of the very forces I set out to combat.

7. The Rule of Realism: "Remember that Satan is eager to corrupt my efforts to build up the Kingdom, and he's smart enough to figure out a way to do it." My cause may be right or my view may be true, but I have to watch that their goodness is not corrupted by my infidelity.

8. The Rule of Mystery: "Not all the habits and attitudes which belong to a society governed by a representative democracy are appropriate in the church." The church is neither a democracy nor a monarchy. She is the church, the Lord's own creation, constituted according to his will.

9. The Petrine Rule: "Nobody ever built up the Church by tearing down the pope." The pastoral care we receive from the pontiff is a great grace, St. Peter's own service of his fellow disciples continuing to this very day.

10. The Eschatological Rule: "The victory is assured; my job is to run out the clock with style." There is one Savior, and it's not you or me. Our mission is to serve the Lord in fidelity and hope.

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are of the author and not of Daijiworld)

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Comment on this article

  • Tony D'Mello, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 13 2018

    It is not important to know whether he or she is at fault. Who wins the case is immaterial because both individually are the spouse of God. They have made a vow of chastity, both have renounced the world. But still they are human beings and bound to commit sin. Satan is trying his best to draw them to sin because he too has made a vow that he would destroy the church and destroy each and every family that lives in peace. It is our duty to pray for the defeat of sin.

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  • Vincent Rodrigues, Katapadi/Bangalore

    Fri, Oct 12 2018

    Any crime if proved entitled for punishment.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Lily Grace D Silva, Mumbai

    Fri, Oct 12 2018

    Whatever said, I still have the same query. Why the nun kept quiet for so many years and during all these years she was still continuing in meetings with the Bishop. If its true, she should have come out right at the beginning and taken actions. She should have taken the break until this matter is solved through the higher authority. After so many years, she comes out in public for justice. The question will still remain, why she remained quiet.

    DisAgree [8] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • George, Mangalore

    Fri, Oct 12 2018

    Why Jesus had to live 33 years to give us salvation from sin. Could have done the very moment we sinned.
    Also, why God waited 6 days to create man and waited for the 7th day.
    Why Almighty n all powerful God allowed to Satan to rule over the First man and eat the forbidden fruit.
    Question is still at large.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Fri, Oct 12 2018

    The author talks about lesser polarisation in the predominantly "Christian" countries, and the opposite being the case in India.

    That may well be the case. But does it have to be that way?

    For several hundred years from its beginning, the Christian church was not cast in a single mould. Each Patriarch (as leader of a bunch of bishops) ran his own show. The Councils attempted to bring in some uniformity, but being full of politics, several such attempts ended up in schisms.

    What does that prove?

    Forced uniformity does not work. Worse, each country's civil laws might be AT VARIANCE with the church laws.

    So, in my opinion, what is needed is something like the Chinese church: fully localised, with just a minor linkage to the supreme church leader. After much wrangling, Pope Francis has accepted the position of China.

    That exactly was the situation in the first 500 years of the Christian church. (In fact, the seat of Rome was not even that of a Patriarch. The role was quietly created, without any explanation, by the Roman Emperors for political purposes).

    The Chinese position highlights the need that local civil laws must be held superior to the church laws.

    PS: What happens in the "Protesters' own country" is something other Christians in India will never understand. A protest a day, and only then they can go to bed in peace.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    In a difficult situation like this, it is fair and just for people not to pass judgement. Now that the matter is gone to court, let the judge or judges decide. UNTIL THEN, IT IS FAIR TO FOLLOW THE CONCEPT THAT A PERSON IS INNOCENT UNTIL FOUND GUILTY BY THE COURT.

    DisAgree [10] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • George, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    "What is needed is less of judgments and more of mercy that matters"
    This is the only sentence that stands on the 'TOP'
    If only the mercy that truly matters, then better say Lord have mercy and close the chapter, as both victim & the alleged are virgins.
    Only if the victim was my sister, mother or my near & dear one, the pain n sorrow would have been manifold.
    Can any one really know the difficulties & the agonies underwent by the victim. first to suffer then to file complaint and get humiliated.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Robert Pais, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    If a person is violated or harmed(crime), it is but a right thing to seek Justice.

    If a person or an organization does not report it to authorities and destroys evidence - they are culpable.

    I do not blame the nuns. They are within their rights to bring it out. Any evil act does not and should not continue to hold poisitions in the church. In Bishops defense if he is innocent then let him draw inspiration from Christ himself and endure .

    Generally speaking , I feel there is a need for every diocese to introspect if they are following the mission of charity. The educational institutes and hopitals are they serving the poor and society in general? Or have they become the means to serve their standing?

    DisAgree [2] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • anthony, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Similarly Fr George, The Law clearly states that an accused is innocent until proved Guilty. What the Nuns have done in full public glare near the High Court with the help of the media virtually staged a media trial of Bishop Franco and condemed him as Guilty even before the trial began. Obviously a greater Narrative was being staged by the nuns that was unwarranted given that the High Court was monitoring the case and a team of senior Kerala Police officers were investigating the case despite the allegations being virtually time barred in the eyes of the Law.

    The Nuns have achieved their purpose of seeing the Bishop arrested as he is still cooling his heels in Jail. A case has been filed against MLA George for using derogatory language against the Nun. This MLA has voluntered to ask 10 questions to the Nun in the Court. It would have been nice if the Police had filed this case in court so that we could also get a little insight into the other side of the story since the Bishop due to the trial by the media remains condemed as Guilty even before the trial has commenced and will remain so for a long time frame until the trial concludes.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Bala K, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Nuns sacrifice their life to God and mankind.It is very tough decision and they do it in their very young age.Feel their position which is very insecure.
    There cannot be smoke without the fire.And in Indian judiciary there are very few cases that are proven and takes longtime.Courts take decision based on witnesses which cannot be criteria for the crime done by the bishop.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • George, Mangaluru

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    We have to come to the core subject of shameful act and protect the Nuns in the future from these scandals which will spoil the image of the church. There should be CCTV cameras in all the corridors and the movements of devilish people can be traced as a proof.. There should be a complaint box and should be opened by chief of the Nuns and read in front of the committee periodically. There should be some kind of fear among these unscrupulous people.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • RkR, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Thank you, Fr George Olivera, Mysuru, For the precious time

    Happens when things are not heard, it’s when your heart goes dark.
    Counsels of perfection- Chastity, Poverty, Obedience

    Open walls- Freedom
    Closed walls- Controlled

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangluru/Kuwait

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Who is right and who is wrong or at the fault will be decided by the Judiciary and punishment will be followed as per rule of the law. No exception.
    In case both the sides are at fault ?

    DisAgree [2] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rita, Germany

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Flavian mangalore,kuwait,I dont think Nun is lieing.How much nerves that costed her first to suffer for long and last to bring out to the public when nobody believed her.Noone tells lies specially a nun ,who is has offered her life to God.Even her superior didnt believe or prohibited her to teach doctrine,prohibition to attend mass preparations.when she complains to the higher officials too it shoud go through superior,and then archbishop?what when the head himself is a accuse done?where she should go?critical situation.Hope the accused one get the right punishment .

    DisAgree [3] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwin, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Please don't waste your time on blame game. and those who are wrong and those who have guilty in mind correct for the future.if you can't maintain the rules come out from the is better not to spoil people join the organization accepting rules and obey the rule
    Show compassion and not publication
    .. Don't justify what is wrong

    DisAgree [1] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lionel Dsouza, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018


    DisAgree [8] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

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