Note: Chackochan Kalarickal, is a renowned speaker and writer of over a dozen books, all meant to help reform the Syromalabar Church. Stationed in Detroit USA he was one of the speakers in the Chicago Cathedral hall meet to protest against the “Pure-blood racist Marriage” of the Knanaya community, while this writer was forced to give the key-note address, some five years ago.
It was in that talk I was forced to say, quoting Ambedkar: “By no fault of mine I was born in Syromalabar Church community, but I shall not die in it.” Some ten years ago I donated my body to Amrutha Medical Hospital here, with signed documents from all my family members.
Chackochan is the president of Syromalabar community and he conducts the international monthly teleconference for all Keralites around the globe. He is an expert in the history, culture and traditions of Syromalabar community. Being too busy with Malayalam writings, he has little time for communications in English. Gravity of the impeding sex abuse crisis in the Church in Kerala and else where, has forced him to send me this small write up.
I shall request him to find more time for CCV. His contact Id is: firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be happy to answer any question on Syromalabar church thrown at him for an enlightened discussion. More about him later. james kottoor, ccv editor.
Please read below Kalarickl’s views on #MToo, on going dibate
“#Me Too” Movement, a brave and courageous step!
Nuns live in cloister; they wear a habit that goes almost to their ankles; they don’t go out at night unless there is medical emergency; they don’t go to parties and consume alcohol. They’ve made a vow of chastity that they think make them freer and happier. Because it’s a FREE choice, they defend it with all the means available to them.
All women have the right to freely say no without being intimidated, raped, or murdered for it. Indian version of “#Me Too” is another available self-defense weapon when it comes to their protection.
The Catholic Church, which has yet to meaningfully address cases of sexual abuse throughout the world for years, must now face a new class of people speaking out about sexual abuse within the church: nuns emboldened by the #MeToo movement. There has been a recent increase in nuns sharing stories of abuse inflicted by priests, and some say that they have held onto these secrets for decades.
The experience of nuns who were sexually abused and raped is similar to all victims of clergy sexual abuse. The church hierarchy does nothing. They hide, dismiss and excuse sexual abuse. Nuns, women, children are, not different in the eyes of church hierarchy who are more interested in their reputation than the safety of those who might be victims.
“#Me Too” heaven-sent
“#Me Too” is not a movement of a few who started it. It became such as a heaven-sent blessing in the hands of women folks exploited by a patriarchal society to satisfy their base sexual cravings. In the case of cloistered nuns it is now becoming an effective tool to use it to defend justice and gender equality Jesus preached and practiced, yes Jesus alone whom they want and bear witness to especially in the midst of poor marginalized sections of society.
This is not a war between men and women, authority and subordinates but a fight against injustice for the weak, downtrodden and helpless, called the ‘better half’ but the worst off, in society every where. In Franco Mulakkal’s case, God is really exposing the demons for who they really are. God is answering the prayers of the righteous self-effacing Sisters responding to their cries for mercy and deliverance.
Congrats to CCV
James, you as editor of CCV have exposed it forcefully in several of your articles in ccv(congrats!) praising sky high the self-effacing slavish work done by sisters as the sole glory of the Catholic church and condemning the criminal silence and cover up by over 200 Indian bishops. Equally you congratulated Bishop Bharanikkulangara for his valiant public declaration, supporting the sit-in strike of six Sisters and apologizing to the laity for the scandal from among some of his brother bishops.
Cases of abused nuns have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. They say both sexual abuse and the abuse of authority occurred inside their Congregation and how they were mistreated when they reported incidents to their superiors. These cases demonstrate the problem is global and all pervasive, due to the sisters’ second-class status in the church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run the show. But now Sisters are going public, partly to denounce years of inaction by the senior leadership within the Catholic Church.
Reaction to Clericalism
This is a telling reaction to the philosophical arrogance of priests called “clericalism” denounced time and again by Pope Francis. This means the clerics preach, and consider themselves nearer to God and therefore everyone else is beneath them. For instance, you might hear, Bishop Franco is a verfy kind bishop and a servant of God, and on that basis they ask the rest of us: “how dare you accuse him of sexual abuse!”
When we go through religious doctrine and law, the male clerical class has virtually unchecked power over others. There a condition is being created for sexual assault and exploitation of children and women. This is compounded by the very structure that does practically nothing to hold itself and its leaders accountable. And without tremendous public pressure and exposure, the abusers will never be expelled from the priesthood, let alone punished or domesticated.
Confessional, to commit sin, not forgive!
The place of confession should be a place of salvation, freedom and mercy. But many women were assaulted or brainwashed during confession to become subservient. Because of this experience, confessionals have became a place of sin, not a place to get rid of one’s sins and abuse of power.
All along Nuns felt silenced by the Church’s culture of secrecy, their vows of obedience and their own fear of repulsion and shame. Vatican says that it's up to local churches to punish priests who have sexually abused nuns. If the abuser is the bishop himself (fense eating the crop) who will punish him? In order to destabilize power structures that protect abusers, the first step is empowering survivors to come forward even more boldly against abusers using #Me Too non-violent verbal protest to shame them.
Why the nun raped, didn’t report soon after the first abuse, may be a genuine question. The answer is fear and shame. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence for generations allowing men to hurt women with impunity. The “#MeToo” movement is a brave and courageous step for creating awareness and it is a beacon of hope for those condemned to drown in the sea of silence and cover-up which has become the hall mark and ugly face of the Catholic Church all over the world.
In the face of it all, what do we the silent majority, the laity, also called the sleeping giant? What these #Me too, sisters are telling us is this: “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” Wake up therefore my country men – when I say country men, I mean the whole world, as we are supposed to be “world Citizens” like Jesus — if we are his followers. So I suggest, every woman and man should come out with her/his #MeToo experience with the clerical class, in one or two sentences at least.
If we don’t do even this, it means we are not prepared to take even a small step we easily can. If you refuse to do even this then: stop calling yourself a follower of the Crazy Nazarene forthwith — Yes, “crazy and immature’ were the labels his contemporaries used” to refer to him — he instead called them ‘Hypocrites and white-washed sepulchers’. Stop keeping silent, stop talking and complaining in private, start acting here and now!