George Kommattathil, Kannur
April 10, 2012
April 10, 2012
A former nun in Kerala state has claimed that abortion and sexual harassment are rife within religious congregations in a memoir slated for release this week.
“Abortions are commonplace in convents,” wrote the author in Swasthy: The Revelations of Sister Mary Chandy.
Sister Chandy claims to have witnessed an attempt by a priest and nun to euthanize a newborn baby, which she says she subsequently rescued and delivered to an orphanage.
The 67-year-old former nun said she left the Daughters of Presentation of Mary in the Temple (DPM) convent 12 years ago after the Church had branded her a “misfit” for filing a complaint against a priest she said had tried to rape her.
She says she now runs an orphanage in Pulpally in Kerala’s Wayanad district.
However, the convent has dismissed the accusations and said Sr Mary was never a member of the congregation.
Sr Regina John, provincial of St Mary’s Region of the DPM, said today that Sr Mary had been employed as a kitchen helper for one year, from 1971-72.
She had made repeated requests to join, and had been given a one-year observation period for candidature, but that ultimately the superiors had rejected her because she did not meet the educational requirements and she had left the convent after a year, Sr John said.
Sr Mary said the denial was not surprising.
“Surely they would disown me, since it is not good news for the congregation.”
The allegations in her memoir have generated widespread attention for the author in the local media.
“My intention is not to gain publicity or mint money but to speak out against the atrocities of priests against nuns,” she said.
The memoir claims to chronicle the “derailed” lives of priests and nuns during her tenure in the convent, though she insists that not all priests are bad.
“The problem arises due to pride and prayerlessness of nuns and priests that make them lead a worldly life.”
She added that convents should be “far removed from parish houses to avoid close interaction between priests and nuns.”
The former nun, who says she still follows her vows and lives an austere life, said she plans to publish additional memoirs based on notes she kept during her convent life.