The sordid going-ons in the church where the bishops rule with an iron hand and nuns are sex toys. No bishop or padre has ever got arrested for committing rapes and murders in India, but Hindu swamis are regularly hounded by the paper tigers of the Congress.
The church is a sinister, Mafia-type organisation. In India, it operates and grows because of the extreme insularity of ordinary Hindus and their total ignorance of the history of Christianity. They have no idea what these bishops did in Europe before the Whites invented the concept of secularism to save their citizens from them. Forget about world events and history, most Hindus have no clue what is happening in other parts of India.
Sister Jesme’s Amen: An Autobiography of a Nun points to the larger issue of the might of the church in India. This might is manifested in the church’s ability to evade inquiry and escape punishment
Cut to March 2008 when Swami Amritha Chaithanya alias Santosh Madhavan was arrested near Kochi. The police recovered porn CDs, tiger skins, and foreign liquor from his ashram. This was sensational news because Santosh was wanted by no less than the Interpol. A leading Malayalam weekly was lauded for its determined hunt in uncovering the disgraced godman’s true colours.
Cut further back to March 27, 1992 when a 19-year-old nun, Sister Abhaya was found drowned in a well at the St Pius convent in Kottayam. The case that was buried as a suicide resurfaced when the CBI in 2008 reported that it was actually a case of rape and murder by a padre.
Cut even further back to about three decades when in the Madatharuvi case, a Christian priest was accused of murdering his ‘girlfriend’.
This is where time starts blurring because these horrid chronicles are too numerous to track. The Christian Divine Retreat Centre is home to about 975 mysterious deaths from 1996 to 2006. Torture, psychedelic drugs, rapes, murders, and quick disposal of bodies, are some associated charges in this divine episode.
Now for some comparative consequences: Santosh Madhavan was quickly arrested and remanded to police custody, and now faces prosecution. The said weekly was congratulated for exposing yet another fraudulent Hindu godman. In direct contrast, not one person in the protracted annals of church-related crimes has been convicted till date.
Sister Jesme’s explosive new book, Amen: An Autobiography of a Nun, is merely a footnote in the vast corpus of the real, but untold horror stories that are routinely enacted inside the cloistered walls of churches worldwide. The book is currently available only in Malayalam. An English translation is expected soon. The fact that Sister Jesme waited to write this book till she quit as principal of a Catholic college in Thrissur speaks eloquently about the murky happenings in the background.
The book recounts the alleged horrors that nuns undergo behind the closed, high-walls of churches and convents, complete with first-person accounts of sexual predation, lesbianism, homosexuality, threats, violence, and sometimes murder. Sister Jesme’s media statement is quote-worthy: “When a woman is molested, sexually harassed, will she speak out? Only one out of a thousand will speak out. So think of nuns! They will never speak out. They fear that their nunhood will be lost.”
Apart from being a bare account of one nun’s claimed experiences, Amen raises urgent, grave questions about the role and ramifications of the church organisation in India. Sister Jesme’s allegations point to the larger issue of the might of the Indian church apparatus. This power has manifested itself in the church’s ability to evade punishment with impunity in every squalid episode listed earlier. We are witness to a scary repeat of the Church’s deeds at the height of its power in mediaeval Europe.
It is also a testimony to the powerful pecking order that exists in the clergy. Sister Jesme claims that a Bangalore-based “pious priest” stripped off his clothes in private and asked her to do the same. Needless to mention, her voice was drowned under the flood of authority, which pretended everything was holy in god’s house. In her words, the Church is a “formidable fortress.”
The fact that an overwhelming number of such cases emanate from Kerala is unsurprising because the State is the most powerful in the entire Christian lobby in India. The local media, police, and major sections of the establishment actively collude with the wrongdoers, remain mum, or are bullied into silence. The weekly that pursued Santosh Madhavan miraculously muted itself in the Abhaya case. The Church hasn’t issued any statement so far on Amen.
The Church gets away with such alleged offences because majority of Indians are ignorant of Christianity’s past. Their knowledge is derived mostly from candle-lightings, miracles and such ‘soft’ depictions in media, art, and movies.
The Kerala church-related activities that are now the subject of much discussion become obvious only if we have a sense of history. At its debauched worst, several medieval Popes kept concubines, organised sexual orgies, and issued political decrees simply because its power was unquestioned. This selfsame character and machinery is at work here, in Kerala. The political class in the State and nation cannot dare antagonise the Christian lobby, thanks to the almighty vote-bank.
It remains to be seen what happens to Sister Jesme. An obvious first step might be a state-imposed ban on Amen.