There hasn’t been any official polling, but it appears as though most Christians in India are still supporting a local bishop accused of raping a nun. Even worse, evidence shows many of them are actively attacking the woman who made the claim.
We first covered this case in September, when an Indian politician called the alleged victim a “prostitute” in order to undermine her credibility. She has also received death threats since she decided to speak out, according to local reports.
The accuser’s fellow nuns have rallied behind her, but it appears the Indian community as a whole has done the opposite.
One of the nuns says she was raped by a bishop more than a dozen times. The bishop, Franco Mulakkal, denies the nun’s accusations, and is out on bail. The Vatican has temporarily relieved him of his duties while he defends himself in court.
While no official polls have been conducted, Kochurani Abraham, a feminist theologian and former nun in Kerala, says a majority of India’s Christians appear to support the bishop and question the nun. Based on her knowledge of the Christian community and her conversations with parishioners, she estimates about 2 percent may leave the Catholic Church because of the scandal. But, she believes, more than 60 percent blame the nun for tarnishing the church.
Some believe the nun should have been arrested — instead of, or at least alongside, the bishop.
It’s demonstrably true that many in India are blaming the nun for this. Even a retired Supreme Court justice has used standard victim-blaming tactics to essentially question whether or not she asked for it by entering his room.
Abraham says it’s a big deal that fellow nuns are protesting, but that didn’t stop the Catholic Church from throwing him a party when he was released from jail on bail in October. That’s because of the unique state of India, she explained.
Priests are particularly revered among Indians, Abraham notes, because their status reminds Indians of something very familiar to them.
“Patriarchy and caste hierarchy go hand in hand,” she explains.
This year, the Catholic nun was not alone in alleging abuse by priests. Female parishioners from several other denominations also started coming forward with accusations.
Elsewhere in Kerala, four priests from the Malankara Orthodox Church have been arrested for allegedly raping and blackmailing a mother of two who had attended their church for years.
None of this is surprising, especially considering the track record of religious groups and unlawful sexual abuse. But what is surprising is that, in a country like India, these issues are even getting airtime. Let’s hope the extra attention leads to justice.
(Screenshot via YouTube)