Saturday, February 28, 2009

Interview of Sister Jesme, the author of “Amen – an autobiography of a nun”

How Church trapped in quagmire can fight the raped nun’s case in Odisha?

Church is spending crores of rupees to hush up Sister Abhaya’s case in Kerala, says Sister Jesme, the author of controversial book, `Amen – an autobiography of a nun’

Sister Jesme, who quit Church order last year after spending more than 25 years, has currently occupied the front-page of the national media. Her controversial book – “Amen – an autobiography of a nun” ( released recently has rocked the Church establishment in Kerala.

In a free and frank interaction with Sai Prasan, a senior journalist, Sister Jesme spoke on issues ranging from the raped nun case in Kandhamal violence to the need for the Church to bring democracy and transparency within its own set up. Excerpts:

A nun was raped in Kandhamal violence. And, your recent book on the nuns says that they are not safe within the four walls of Church. How do you think that they can be protected within Church periphery as well as in open society?

The nuns can be protected outside only if they are first protected within the four walls of Church. If the nuns are not protected within the four walls of Church, they can fall prey in the hands of those who are in control of Church for the worldly pleasure including sex. The powerful women and priests can target nuns within the Church and they can also be the target outside the four walls of Church. The Church is fighting against the Leftist state government in Kerala, but the Church leadership was not much vocal on the atrocities done to the Christians and nuns in Kandhamal violence.

So, what should be done in this kind of situation?

First of all, the Church renovation should take place. For example, in the Sister Abhaya case ( in Kerala, Church is speaking in favour of the culprits. The Church is spending crores of rupees in order to hush up the case.

A nun was raped in Kandhamal by the Hindu fundamentalists. Do you think that the investigations is on the right track and she will get justice?

The fundamentalists should be defeated and women’s rights should be protected whether it is house wife or nun. All the dialogues on such kind of cases within the Church is a farce or fake. If someone raises voice or concern, then he or she are shouted out. That person is not given any important position, hooted out and orchestrated within the Church set up.

How do the Church treat the nuns who was raped like in Kandhamal case as they are not virgin which is a pre-condition for the nun-hood ?

The Church accepts such nuns and allows them to do the work as usual because it is not her fault.

Who is responsible for the Kandhamal violence?

It appears to be a political issue and I do not want to indulge into politics as that is not my area.

What made you to come out after 30 years from the Church set-up?

Church wanted to prove that I am mad to silence me. That is the trigger point. Otherwise, I would have still stayed with the Church. It was suffocating within the four walls, therefore, I came out.

So, due to think that Church operations are not transparent?

Not at all transparent. One should know that the powerful and wealthy people are always afraid of transparency. Because they are afraid of loosing power, wealth and position. The Sister Abhaya murder case is evident that these powerful people will not hesitated to murder if some one comes in between as their obstacle. The media by and large is also with them and do not report the events neutrally.

Do you think that the Church is not democratic also?

The Church is never democratic. It is hierarchical with the Pope heading it. The nuns and priests are expected to report to Bishop. The Church believes that the hierarchical set up makes it the most powerful entity in the world.

According to Bible, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” Matthew 19:12 (King James Version). So, is the nunnery imposed by the Church?

There are different reason why girls enter into nunship. Some join because

Jesus calls them, some for name and fame and some for money to support their family. The nuns and priests are expected to live a simple life. There are complains that some nuns get foreign funds; but they are misusing.

In what situation, the nuns leave the Church?

There are plenty of cases where nuns leave the Church when they fall in love with some one. Some leave the Church because of their sickness and they can not attend the convent.

Sex is a basic instinct. Why Church has imposed celibacy on nuns and priests?

Yes, you are right - the sex has penetrated within the four walls in the 21st century. The nuns should be allowed to speak out and interact with the world. Let the nuns interact with the world and vice versa. Let Church enter into the world, and world enter into the Church. Then only there will be balanced view on the issues. The nuns should be allowed to see movies like Slumdog Millionare . And, those who want to leave Church, they should be allowed to do so. And, let the committed one stay within the Church. The Church should concentrate on the quality and not on the quantity.

Why the church is silent on the sexual exploitation taking place within the Church ?

They do not want to take any action. They want to hush-up such cases. The more such kind of cases are hushed up, the more such cases take place. Such cases should come into the public, then only some renovation can take place within the Church.

The nuns are working in the rural India while there are slums in the urban areas also.

No, some nuns are working in the slums also in the urban areas, though comparatively lesser in number. There are nuns who are working sincerely across the geographical areas. There are a large number of nuns who are holier than Mother Teresa, but they were not given sainthood like it was given to Mother Teresa. I sometimes wonder why these nuns were not given sainthood and they were being used as puppets. However, it is important to note that Mother Teresa took initiative on different fronts.

Why Missionary of Charities are located in cities and not in the rural India?

Yes, you are right. They are mostly located in cities and a very few in the rural areas. This issue, we too have raised before the Church authorities.

You are very vocal against Church. Do you have any life threat as Church is very powerful?

No, I am not afraid because Jesus is with me. He is the saviour. Amen.

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