Father Augustine has reacted to the news of the transfer letter sent to the four nuns who were supporting the nun who survived the rape and accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
In the order sent on January 10, 2019, four of the five nuns who supported their fellow rape survivor nun have been asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent in what appears to be an effort to isolate the nuns, and to break their collective strength. Each of them has been asked to return to the convent they were previously assigned by the Missionaries of Jesus.
Father Augustine has called the transfer order as a vindictive move against the nuns taken to make an example of "those question church will not be tolerated."
He also said that the church should answer whether its authority is above the Constitution of India
"This is vindictive. The protest should not have been broken. The question before us is - to protest is a fundamental right of the citizen, it is their civil right. What the church is doing - it is an archaic rule, it is a feudal system - which says nobody should question authority. This has happened because the case is yet to go to the court. These four nuns should stand together. The message they(church) are sending is people asking questions will not be tolerated.
People in the church should write why is rape survivor nun being questioned and victimised repeatedly. There is nobody to ask questions to the church.
Is the church authority above the Constitution, the legal system in India, they should answer.
As a follower of Christ, who stood for the marginalised, I would ask entire Christian believers to back the system. Otherwise, the whole system would collapse. Youngsters would ask why this happens again. It is high time, we should break our silence. People in Kerala should take to the streets and ask questions to power and authority," he said.
He also spoke about the suffering of the nuns who have been caused a lot of humiliation by their own church and section of their community.
"I spoke with the nuns. The letter was sent last month and it has been sent again. They are living in pain. The survivor is alone there. They consider her their mother. Very painful that authorities are doing this," he said.
The Church had ordered the transfers in a letter dated January 10, 2019. The letter accuses the nuns of 'issuing malafide public statements' as well as accuses them of 'circulating baseless stories'. As per the letter, the nuns are trying to 'tarnish the images of MJ congregation by disobeying congregation instructions.'
Earlier in the case, the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, which has been under the spotlight over the controversy swirling around Kerala nun rape case accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, has published a statement in its monthly newsletter imploring devotees to boycott the media.
Father Kuriakose Kattuthara who was the key witness in the case died under mysterious circumstances on October 22, 2018. The brother of the deceased, Jose Kattuthara had made stunning allegations against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal and his supporters.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal was granted a conditional bail on October 15, following which he received a hero's welcome in Jalandhar on the very next day. This was the Bishop's second attempt to get the bail.