The rotting ills of the Catholic Church have been evident in India for a long time, attracting nation-wide attention in the mid-1960s with Kerala's infamous Madatharuvi murder case, when a Catholic priest, accused of murdering a woman, escaped the noose with the aid of an expensive, flamboyant lawyer imported from Delhi.
In those days, much like today, nobody cared, nor had the time, to listen to the woes of the women slaves (called nuns) of the most autocratic, misogynistic and scandalous organisation in the world. The devious polity of modern India put a blanket on the rightful debate on alien and criminal religious practices, and their ethical and moral effect on the indigenous people and society.
Numerous unreported suicides
There are no available figures on the number of suicides of nuns till now, but the writer personally knows of a number of suicides of nuns in Kerala that never got reported in the press. Only those cases in which the victims had some relative to question the unnatural death ever got into the newspapers. Otherwise there were just obituaries.
Sr. Abhaya's case would have been written off as suicide, as many murders of nuns have been dismissed, but for her cousin, Jomon Puthenpurakal, who himself came close to becoming a victim. On 11 August 2008, Sr. Anupa Mary committed suicide in St. Mary's Convent, Kollam, leaving a suicide note that accused a senior nun in the convent of sexual harassment.
A few days later, two girl inmates of an orphanage run by the Holy Cross Order in which Sr. Anupa was ordained, tried to commit suicide and later accused an apprentice priest Benedict of harassment. On 11 February 2009, Sr. Josephine who lived in the Daughters of Mary Convent in Thiruvananthapuram, committed suicide. Harassment was alleged initially, but that too went up in smoke. None of these cases deserved investigation because the accused is the Catholic Church, one of the few untouchable organisations in modern Indian polity.
The sexual abuse of nuns by Catholic priests is no rare news and not restricted to Kerala. It is as common and virulent worldwide as Catholic paedophilia. In a report, quoted in the Catholic National Reporter in the USA in the 1990s, Sister Maura O'Donohue, a medical doctor, said the sexual abuse of nuns by priests had been documented in 23 countries. The detailed report would inspire only fantasy porno writers, for such is the ingenuity exercised by the sworn, supposedly ascetic, clergymen to satiate their perverted sexual urges with their helpless women slaves and wives of men congregating in the churches.
Would you blame the hormone-driven human beneath the cassock, or the irrational, sexually aberrant Catholic Church, which is polluting the entire world with its perversions? No wonder, the head of the Church, Ratzinger alias Benedict, the present Pope, is blaming condoms for HIV/AIDS!
Suicide is not the solution
However, the tide seems to turning back; the slaves are garnering strength and slowly beginning to escape the holes and caves where they are psychologically and physically imprisoned. They are beginning to understand that suicides are not the right solution. Ex-sister Jesme's autobiography, "Amen", published by DC Books, is a revelation of the sexual exploitation of the vulnerable women in the possession of the Catholic Church.
The publication of this book came close on the heels of an allegation by a nun in her 60s, from the Congregation of Daughters of Mary Convent in Anchal, accusing the Church of forced abortions of young nuns in the convent. According to her nephew, the nun is still being kept in a Church-owned mental hospital near Thodupuzha. Some nuns in Njarakal near Kochi openly rebelled against the Church in February 2009 for trying to move them forcibly from the convent where they have been living for years.
Acting on complaints received by it, the Kerala State Women's Commission submitted a recommendation to the government last year to stipulate the minimum age for joining nunnery at 18 years. The Church raised a furore, typically making a mockery of the Commission, and the government back-pedalled without further notice, probably due to the imminent national elections.
The Women's Commission also could not act with any direction on the complaint of the nun (from the Daughters of Mary Convent in Anchal) forced into the mental asylum, even though its Chairperson had gone to meet her. There seems to be nothing the Kerala citizens can do, because these nuns are the possession of the richest private organisation in India and the world.
What does the Kerala Catholic laity say about the hardships of nuns? Nothing! They keep mum, so that they are blessed and buried in the right hole in the cemetery when they die! A brief survey conducted by this writer in Kerala among the Catholic community in Kochi showed that about 80% believe they will go to hell if they are not buried by weirdoes. All are worried about what their neighbours talk and leave everything, including dispensation of justice, to god. A small percentage believes that accusations against clergymen and Church are the workings of Satan.
Straight from whose heart?
Whitewashing the accumulating dirt in the house has become an increasingly regular, but difficult, task for the Catholic Church. This time the attempt was quick, but not very effective. The stains show miserably. Kerala's grand old extremist, who two years ago exhorted the Kerala Catholic laity to reproduce like rats to combat the rising Muslim population, and who is now President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, released a book, "Straight from the Heart". "Straight from the Vatican's Heart" would have been more appropriate for its content. The 82-year-old Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil rues over the state of Catholic nuns and says they are compelled to do menial jobs for priests, but keeps mum on sexual exploitation. According to The Times of India, 17 March 2009, he writes, "I would say to a great extent our nuns are not emancipated women. They are often kept under submission by the fear of revenge by priests. That's how the priests get away with whatever humiliation they heap upon them. It is a pitiable situation from which somebody has to liberate them."
In an autocracy, in which he is a senior and top regional official, what has he done so far to reverse this situation? He also doesn't mention that Kerala Church is an exporter of menial female labour for European convents and Church institutions, and that their pay packets are entirely confiscated by the Church.
It is very clear that Vithayathil's mention of the pathetic nuns in his book is a last-minute knee-jerk response to Jesme's "Amen", hurriedly appended to a finished book intended for something else – to meddle in electoral politics to garner votes for UDF candidates.
The Church's open call to vote against the Marxists is especially aimed at subverting secular reforms, which are very much needed in the state. It is evinced by the Cardinal's tirade against the recommendations of the Kerala Law Reforms Commission, which advocated hundred percent secular reforms in religious institutions.
One recommendation, which is a particularly indigestible bit of meat in the Catholic stomach, pertains to the handover of Church properties to Christian trusts consisting of ordinary lay people. In a press statement (17 March 2009), the Chairman of the Commission, V.R. Krishna Iyer, said this recommendation was based on "representations made by sincere Christians" and that leading thinkers like Justice K.T. Thomas and Dr. K.V. Pylee, former Vice Chancellor of Cochin University, fully supported the Commission's recommendations.
The bills, if made into laws, will take away Vatican's control over Church properties in Kerala and discourage Catholics from mindless reproduction. "Canonical papal control over Church properties in Kerala will be a new imperialism repugnant to the secular character and sovereign authority of 'we the people of India'," said Mr. Iyer, while asking the Church to withdraw a pastoral letter circulating in churches and chapels all over Kerala that trashed the Commission's recommendations. Mr. Iyer added, "The vast properties of the Church in the State were the product of parishioners' contributions and naturally the management of the estate must have democratic dimensions giving a voice to the Christian parishioners."
Vithayathil's book takes Catholic hypocrisy to a pinnacle. He literally grinds his teeth when speaking of Marxists, whom he refers to as "atheists," and loses control over logic: "Where is the logic of democracy if they are convinced atheists? ...Democracy is based on respect for the individual and the rule 'of the people, by the people, for the people.'"
The Catholic Church is the most undemocratic organisation in India or elsewhere, but Vithayathil is following the footsteps of his chief Ratzinger, who invariably combines insipid erudition with stupid logic, a kind of language to fool his dim half-wit sheep. But the Cardinal has a good word for the BJP for their – guess what – "promoting certain moral values for which they would opt for stricter media censorship." He tries to woo Hindus in the traditional Christian esoteric language that can be deciphered only by those who have seen the proverbial "underbelly of the beast."
He writes tongue-in-cheek, "Catholics of the country also regard Indian culture, philosophy, literature and science as their heritage. The Catholic Church will certainly protect them just as it has responsibly protected and preserved Greek and Roman cultures."
What these words mean is that Catholics have a claim on Indian tradition and will protect it in Vatican-franchised museums, just like they had reduced ("protected and preserved") ancient Greek and Roman cultures. In reality, it was the Arabs who redeemed the leftovers of the Greek and Roman traditions from the obnoxious padres who did their best to destroy them. Are there still takers for this grotesque faith?
(The author previously wrote under the name George Thundiparambil; he is the author of Maya, a novel on Kerala's turbulent past)
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