Cover image: Justice Michael F. Saldanha
THE TELEGRAPH CALCUTTA
19th June 2021
Michael F. Saldanha, former justice of Bombay and Karnataka High Courts, has urged the Vatican to withdraw confirmation of the expulsion of Sister Lucy of Fransiscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) in Kerala and asked the Vatican to give a fair hearing to her "in keeping with the rules of natural justice which apply to every law." He further wrote: I am prepared to represent her/assist her at the hearing as I happen to be a qualified and experienced lawyer and not one who can be bought over by Church funds or intimidated" and sent a copy of his letter to Sister Ann Joseph, Superior-General of FCC, who had sacked Sister Lucy in August 2019.
Justice Saldanha's letter says such regulations are "illegal and unconstitutional, ostensibly based on Canon Law which cannot override the Constitution of India and the laws of this country". A lion, that too Catholic, has roared and his roar is sure to send shivers down the spines of Sister Ann Joseph and the Vatican. Both have to abide by the Indian Law, as the place of the ham-handed incident is Kerala. Similar incidents of gross injustice where the victims have been penalised, under the garb of Minority Institution Constitutional Protection, have happened in the Archdiocese of Calcutta, where the Archbishop has swept each matter of grave church injustice under the carpet. This includes the priest principal of a salesian school in Kolkata. The Archbishop is fully aware of his victimisation of female staff members of his school; whoever raised her voice and put up written complaints against his indecent advances, has been showcaused, charge-sheeted and then terminated. This priest principal boasts of having the full executive and the judiciary of Kolkata under his control (as their wards study in his school). One senior priest of the Archbishop House is a partner in crime. He headed the farcical One-man Inquiry Commission set up by the school management. How one can be terminated based on the findings of a one-man commission (however holy he may be) is a great mystery and a travesty of natural justice. There are gaping holes in his finding. The incriminating documents issued by the School to nail the hapless victims can be shown to Justice Michael if he is keen to know the undercurrents of injustice in our Missionary Institutions. We need more lions like Justice Saldanha to bring the wolves in sheep's clothing to book. Isaac Gomes, Associate Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.
Sister Lucy Kalappura
A former judge of the Karnataka and Bombay High Courts has urged the Vatican to withdraw confirmation of the expulsion of a Kerala nun who had stood up for a colleague who was allegedly raped by a bishop.
ustice Michael F. Saldanha wrote to the Signatura Apostolica in Rome and the Apostolic Nunciature in Delhi on Thursday, seeking a "fair hearing" for Sister Lucy Kalappura "in keeping with the rules of natural justice which apply to every law".
The Franciscan Clarist Congregation in Kerala recently received a communication from the Vatican saying Sister Lucy's third and final appeal against her expulsion from the order had been rejected.
A copy of the letter was marked to Sister Ann Joseph, superior-general of the congregation, who had sacked Sis- ter Lucy in August 2019. Sister Lucy had angered the congregation in September 2018 by visiting five nuns who were staging a public protest in Kochi and expressing solidarity with them.
The nuns were seeking the arrest of the then bishop of Jallandhar, Franco Mulakkal, who had allegedly raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kuravilangad, Kottayam, Kerala. Mulakkal was eventually arrested but the trial has not yet started in the Kottayam court.
After being ordered to leave the Mananthavady, Wayanad, convent following her sacking, Sister Lucy had in December 2019 petitioned a local civil court and obtained an injunction on the eviction order, while continuing to appeal to the Vatican against her expulsion.
The Mumbai-based Justice Saldanha has offered to represent Sister Lucy before the Vatican.
"I am prepared to represent her/assist her at the hearing as I happen to be a qualified and experienced lawyer and not one who can be bought over by Church funds or intimidated," his letter says.
It adds that the communication Sister Lucy recently received about the rejection of her final appeal was a "very doubtful and mutilated communication" since the Vatican was closed when it was issued.
While the covering letter in English from the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura Apostolica in Rome was dated May 27, 2020, the directive written in Latin was dated May 27, 2021.
Justice Saldanha said May 27, 2020, fell within a fourmonth period during which the Vatican had shut down because of the pandemic and a vacation.
"How such an order could have been passed when the office (of the Vatican) was closed and not working is something which you are called upon to explain because the consequences are serious in so far as it clearly establishes that the order is fabricated," Justice Saldanha's letter says.
After the Supreme Tribunal rejected Sister Lucy's appeal, the superior-general asked her on June 13 to vacate the convent within a week after handing over her habits and whatever else that belonged to the order. Failing this, her continuance would be considered "criminal house trespass", the communication said.
Justice Saldanha's letter says such regulations are "illegal and unconstitutional, ostensibly based on Canon Law which cannot override the Constitution of India and the laws of this country".
The former judge told The Telegraph on Friday that the Church had not given Sister Lucy a "fair trial". "Her appeals were summarily thrown out by the Nuncio," he said.