I have heard several stories about how difficult it is to get out the clutches of church for a nun. Here is a new one from Kerala, India.
Sr Mary Sebastian, 45 years, has been serving the Catholic Church for last 25 years. Due to repeated mental and even physical abuses and frequent transfer of posting she became fed up with her job.
Sr. Mary approached the Church to grant her 3 years of exclaustration that allows a nun to stay outside the convent as a common citizen and return to the convent after the designated period.
However, she was denied permission as the Church feared that granting her this would encourage other nuns to follow suit.
When the Church deliberately delayed the proceedings, Sr. Mary approached the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement, an organization that works for rehabilitation of ex-priests and ex-nuns. Matters went haywire after the organization intervened.
In May, she was given dispensation and was asked to quit the Church. Having decided that it is best to do so, Sr. Mary demanded that she be paid her due in order for her to lead a life outside the church. The authorities objected.
How can someone who did slave work with zero pay for an institution, can be denied good compensation when they opt to go out ? How can some one survive this world with no bank balance ? The church know this and to prevent more nuns getting out they are trying their best to avoid giving compensation.
Two weeks ago, Sr. Mary filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and Women’s Commission alleging that she was facing physical and mental harassment at the hands of her superiors. But after she approached Women’s Commission, the Church, she alleges, has found new ways of taunting her.
They even filed a police complaint recently, accusing her of theft. She says that police officials threatened her to quit the Church as per their order.
Last week, a complaint was filed with Child Welfare Committee accusing her of harassing the children at Balabhavan, a children’s home associated with the convent. Sr. Mary claims that the authorities of the committee forcefully made her sign a document pledging that she will stay away from the children.
Accusing theft and child abuse just because she wanted her dues ? How low can the church go ?
I am scared for my life…They are so powerful that they may even harm me!”
For Sr Mary false allegations from Church are nothing new. She had faced them from when ever she had pointed out corruption in the convent affairs.
She also alleges that she was repeatedly transferred from one convent to the other, at the behest of the Church, often in the middle of an academic year.
Sr. Mary, who works as a teacher at a school run by the Church, says that she was brutally assaulted by her superiors at the various convents she has lived over the years. “They would hit me, accusing me of various things, including robbery. They hid letters addressed to me. I forgave them and tolerated everything till now. I cannot take it any further,” she says.
Do you know what it means to be a nun who quit the Order? Our society hasn’t grown enough to accept such things. People will see it as my betrayal towards Jesus. But only if they knew that my fight is against the Church and not Jesus….”
May be the first step in liberation from God belief for a nun is liberation from the Church.