The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Catholic Christian Convents of Central Kerala

From: Krishen Kak
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:46 AM
Subject: The Dreadful Dracula Houses of Kerala

Dr. C. I. Issac

The Central Kerala, particularly, the Kottayam district is the highest Christian populated [8, 95,000 or 45.83%] area and is the Vatican of India. It is the bastion of Christian vested interests also. In the recent Assembly elections also this Christian upper hand reflected well, and to a certain extent it helped to save the face of Congress led front [UDF]. A sizable number of priests and nuns works all over India are haling from this particular area. So it is the nuclei of India's Christian conversion programme [India for Christ Programme]. Above all, the contemporary European Church is facing spiritual crisis due to its youths reluctance to ordain as priests and nuns and the Churches of Central Kerala solves that through the export of the same. Through this thumbnail sketch of the present-day Kerala Church, this article is intended to draw the attention of the esteemed readers on the malady of those Christian girls who destined to be as nuns or 'bride of the Jesus', within the four walls of the convents.

For the last two decades the disastrous end of young girls who embraced the nun-hood turned to be a news item in the column of the vernacular newspapers of Kerala. So far a dozen such news catches the headings of the press. Of the first is the pathetic end of 19 year old student cum nun Sr. [Sister] Abhaya of Pius X Convent in the heart of the town, Kottayam. She belongs to a lower middle class Catholic family of Kottayam district. On 1992 March 27th, her body was found in the well of the said convent. Her father Thomas Areekkara and mother Leelamma raised serious doubts about the death of their daughter Beena [changed her name in to Sr. Abhaya after taking the veil]. They categorically say that her daughter has any raison d'être to commit suicide.

The dawn of 27th March was a sad day to the students and teachers of BCM college of Kottayam, where Sr. Abhaya was a student, who met disastrous end in the Pius X convent. The Christian police officer who rushed to the spot was given priority to destroy the evidences, instead of collecting evidences related to her suspicious death. No doubt it was with the political blessings from above. Later ups and downs in the investigations are much evident to justify this doubt. The growing economic and political power of Christians [particularly the Church] in Kerala considerably influenced the course of its investigation. The parents of the deceased nun and the philanthropists of Kottayam continued their legal battle to book the culprit, miserably failed. The Christian CBI officer who was in charge of investigation resigned from the office while investigation was in progress. The suspected priest and the mother of the convent who ought to be the prime witness in the case were sent to Vatican by the Church authorities and subsequently they became the citizens of the Papal State. Even though the government of India has a healthy diplomatic relation with Vatican, the investigating agencies miserably failed to extradite them for interrogation.

The story of the disastrous deaths of nuns in the convents of Kerala not ends with the mysterious death of Sr. Abhaya. It was the beginning of a new turn in the history of church sponsored criminalism in Kerala. Subsequently, after two weeks, another nun called Sr. Mercy found dead in a waterless pond in the compound of the convent at Mukkootuthara in the Kottayam district. The all-powerful church hierarchy was able to manipulate the course of investigation from its bud and write-off the death as an accident of drowning. The story of the disastrous death coming out from the convents of Central Kerala is shrouded in mystery and equal or more than that in the 19th century detective novel Dracula of Bram Stocker.

Another scapegoat of the 'convent-death' is Sr. Paulcy of the Snehagiri [Hill of Love] Convent of Palai near Kottayam. It was on 17th May 2000. She died of the consumption of poisoned meet food. No other inmates of the convent is affected with food poison, is the paradox to be answered. But the convent authorities had given obituary advertisement in leading vernacular newspaper that Sr. Paulcy [35] died of heart attack. Even though she lost her life in the night of 17th May, the matter was informed to her parents who reside very near to the convent only after eight O'clock in the morning of the next day. Parents of the unfortunate nun raised doubts about the death and the police intervened. The post-mortem report negated the Convent hierarchy's argument of the 'heart attack'. The sister and mother of the deceased nun recollected the story which told her a few weeks back that, "a lot of foreign remittance is flowing to the Convent and she happened to see the details of the remittance caused the wrath of the Mother superior of the Convent and she scolded a lot her". [2nd largest circulated daily of Kerala; Matrubhoomi Daily, Kottayam, 25th June 2000]. Any way the story of mysterious deaths of nuns clearly giving some clue that most of the convents in the Central Kerala are not only the abodes nuns but also the seat of mysterious transactions including the violation of the Commandments 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th. [For the details of the quoted Commandments, see Exodus, Chapter XIX, Aphorisms 2 – 17].

After a couple of months, Sr. Sofi, a 27 year old nun of Velliyappally Valakkattu Convent of Palai became the next victim of "Convent Tragedy". Her body found in the well of the convent. As usual police has registered an FIR. But the investigation not yet reached any shore of conclusion. It is quite natural that a prominent leader of Kerala politics and his party is the product of the Catholic Church and he belongs to Palai. So in all the church/priest/nun related criminal offences are always shrouding in obscurity. Hence the unnatural death of Sr. Sofi also got the same destiny.

The story of the destiny of Sr. Anjo has yet another dimension. A 22 year old nun found solace in suicide on 29th December 2003. She was an intelligent and smart girl who opt the path of "Bride-ship of the Christ" owing to the compulsion of the family and parents. She was the inmate of SH Convent, Chanjodi near Kottaym. To the Anjo the life in the monotonous convent was boring and she thought about the deliverance. The parents and the Convent authorities insisted her to continue in veil. She lost all hopes of deliverance and finally she fond solace in hanging on the fan. [Feature from Keralasabdham Weekly,- a prominent Malayalam news weekly - 19th January 2003, pp 12, 13].

The tragic death Sr. Ancy, 32, of Bethany Convent of Ranny-Perunnadu was the story of yet another unfortunate who found [it is said] her destiny in the well of the convent. She was a teacher of the school run by the church. Her dead body found in the well in the early morning. But the convent authorities informed the police only after 10'O clock in the morning. This response of the convent authorities was doubtful. The police investigation lost its momentum elsewhere in the deluge of time. Once again the name of one more nun, Sr. Ancy, was also written in the list of Christ's Brides, which appears, on the walls of paradise.

Now the story of unnatural deaths in the convents is not at all news to an ordinary Malayalee. Even though, it is genuine to bring the news of the tragic end of the last but not least nun. On 23rd June 2006 Sr. Lisa of Saint Francis Clarist Convent of Iravuchira, a hamlet near Kottayam, who ends her life in the convent by consuming poison. The relatives and guardians of the deceased Sr. Lisa strongly believe that her decision of ending life is the outcome of the torture and humiliation that met by her from the convent authorities. [Janmabhoomi Daily – a prominent Hindu news paper - Kottayam, 26th June 2006].

The above mentioned are only some identical incidents from a dozen convent tragedies that took place in the recent past. Those politicians who cast their covetous eyes on the vote banks of the Church have no sufficient will to ensure justice to the souls of the ill-fated women who forced to take veil. The parents of the unfortunate Sr. Abhaya's fight for justice not yet produced any fruits. The power seeking politician's interference in the investigation turned down as the stumbling block behind the way to ensure justice to the soul of Sr. Abhaya.

The wretched girls who fettered in the convents are hailing from economically poor Christian families of Kerala. The wealth and religion are not traveling together in the practical experience/case of Christianity in the west. The contemporary European Christian experience substantiates this universal truth. The rich European region is now reluctant to contribute priests and nuns to cater the demands of the Church. Now this gap is filled from less prosperous countries of Asia and Africa. The Church in Kerala is booking profit out of the economic backwardness that still exists amongst the Christian families and thus recruits girls from such families as nuns. Usually girls are enrolled in to the bandwagon of nunnery at the tender ages. The compulsions of the parents who are allured by the Church are grazing its lass to the 'heavenly prisons' [convents]. One cannot deny the role of convents schools to motivate young and innocent girls to the 'slaughter houses' [convents].

The Syrian Christian community with immense wealth, celebrating their marriage ceremonies with the pomp of "Maha Kumba Melas", is the real culprit behind the plight of poor girls behind the bars of convents. The seven-digit dowry and celebration turned as a nightmare to the poor Christian families. So the economically weak in the Christian community can't imagine marriage of their daughters. Kottayam, a small town of 25 lakhs of people and five Cathedrals with Christian economic dominance, has one and a half dozen 'five star jewelers' shows the extent of the pompous of richness of Syrian Christians. Now money is a deciding factor in this community. So, economically weak Christians are gearing to compete with the rest through acquiring money. As a result they are compelling their lasses to opt either to nursing or to nunnery. The convent is dam cheap as compared to nursing. So the economically too poor parents are forced to herd their damsels to the convents. Therefore, the Kerala's Syrian Christian Church is the chief contributor of the 95% of nuns required for the proselytism activities of the Churches in India.

The allegations both moral and material are the universal ghost haunting the Christendom all over the world. One Catholic Priest from India [Kerala] got four months jail term for sexually abusing a twelve year old laity girl in USA. The convicted Rev. Francis X Nelson [38] hailing from Kerala served as the Confidential Secretary Kottar [Tamilnadu] Bishop Leon Tharmaraj. [The New Indian Express, Kochi, 28 March 2003]. Broklyn [USA] Diocese Bishop has forced to transfer 42 files related to sexual abuses involved by twenty five Catholic priests to the authorities during the trial of the Rev. Nelson's case. [Janmabhoomi Daily, Kochi, 28 March 2003]. The Vatican recently confessed that priests and nuns under the Roman Catholic Church in several countries including India and Italy involving in sexual relations. La Republica daily of Italy reports that priests and nuns involved rape, conception and abortion are frequently reported from various regions. [Janmabhoomi Daily, Kochi, 22 March 2001]. Priests involvements in murder and other subversive activate are increasing at a high rate.

It is believed that the Catholic Priests and Nuns are chronic bachelors and chronic spinsters respectively who practices Bramachariay/Sanyasaa Ashram/life of hermit are using high calorie fat food is one among several reasons of the increase of sexual appetite. This is the main reason for the sex related crimes also. If the church is interested to maintain the purity of the concept of hermit life amongst its soldiers of proselytism, it is better to follow Hindu practices of vegetarianism and yoga. Otherwise papal effort to maintain hermitage in the Church order will be a futile effort.

Let us return to Kerala scenario. In September 2001 St. Alphonsa Church at Kolayad near Kannur was ransacked by some [the discontented laity] people. Those who are lamenting of Sanga Parivar attack on churches in other states followed lukewarm attitude towards this attack. This was happened so, because of the frustration that brewing inside the church. Fr. Job Chittilappally, a 71 year old padre of St. Varaprasada Matha Church, near Chalakudi in Trichur district found dead with stab injuries in August 2004. The Church has shown no enthusiasm in booking the culprit, is noteworthy. Earlier for petty problems nuns and priests along with laity display their might in the street. But in this case there were no such road shows. All these are the signs of the ever-deteriorating morale space of the Church and Christianity all over.

So here comes the question of social justice. The ill-fated girls who destined to the hellish suffering within the four walls of convents have the right to live. The government and constitution has moral and legal right to ensure the right of life of them. So the practice of recruiting girls to the convents before the growth of 'wisdom teeth' must go. The recruitment to the profession of nunnery at the tender age is not different from girl-foeticide. So it must be treated as criminal act and those who involve, with out considering the social status of person, must brought before the law. If criminal laws are not sufficient to deal with, it should make further laws to book the culprits. If we fail to do something in this direction it may lead to severe social problems similar to that generated by the rotten Devadasi system of medieval South India.

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