Church Protests Play Exposing Sexual Affairs of Nuns

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  June 7, 2023   

South Indian drama depicts sisters as lesbians and sex partners of priests

You are not signed in as a Premium user; you are viewing the free version of this program. Premium users have access to full-length programs with limited commercials and receive a 10% discount in the store! Sign up for only one day for the low cost of $1.99. Click the button below.

KERALA, India ( - The Catholic Church in the south Indian state of Kerala is demanding a ban on a play that exposes abuse in convents and portrays nuns as lesbians and sexual partners of priests.

A scene from Kakkukali

The play Kakkukali portrays the Church "taking advantage of poverty to recruit girls to convents and deploy them for free work," complained Sr. Vandana Daisy, a member of the Missionary Society of Mary Immaculate.

"They then indulge in lesbianism or become sexual partners of priests. The play also alleges that nuns are subservient to priests, who decide for the women religious. All this is a blatant lie," Daisy told Matters India in May.

Author Wins Award

The play is based on a story by the well-known Catholic author Francis Noronha. Ironically, the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Conference, which oversees a state that is traditionally Christian, had awarded Noronha a prize for the same work.

Calling for a ban on Kakkukali, Cdl. Mar Baselios Cleemis, president of the Kerala Bishops' Council, claimed the play "defames Christian asceticism and spreads the wrong message among other religious groups."

I ask them to fight when they are treated unfairly. 

"The Church sees such actions as equivalent to physical assault," the cardinal stressed, noting that the attempt to conceal the contributions of religious communities in education, charity and patient care is "part of a secret agenda." 

Kakkukali is a version of the game hopscotch in which children toss a potsherd and hop blindfolded through marked spaces to retrieve it. The game serves as a metaphor for life, wherein you must hop only through the spaces marked by power centers.


The central character of the play is Natalia, a girl from a coastal village whose father, a poor fisherman, has been killed. Unable to provide for her daughter, Natalia's mother sends her to a convent to become a nun. 

Natalia is fond of her father's communist past but is enticed by the better life at the convent. However, to her horror, the recruit is abused by other nuns, subjected to burdensome menial chores and punished even for minor mistakes.

They then indulge in lesbianism or become sexual partners of priests.

When Natalia decides to leave the convent, she faces the ire of her superiors. Eventually, she retrieves her father's books, discards her veil and rejoins her friends.

Bishops' Agenda?

The play's director, Job Madathil, accused the Catholic hierarchy of having an agenda behind their charges and challenged them to watch the drama before calling for it to be censored. 

Priest and nun scene in Kakkukali

"The play is not against the Church or the convent. It's about any institution where a girl or a woman is denied freedom to live. We know how any institution, be it a monastery or something else, would treat someone who runs away from it," Madathil insisted.

Supporters of the play are asking why it took the Catholic bishops so long to object to the performances, especially when the drama was first staged in the summer of 2022 at Thrissur in Kerala. The play has been performed at least 15 times across the state since its debut.

Hierarchs objected to Kakkukali only when the play was staged in the United Arab Emirates by the Abu Dhabi Sakthi Theatres as part of the Bharat Murali Memorial theater competition, The Federal reported.

"Kakkukali is not against the believers or churchgoers," Malu Das, the actress who portrays Natalia, said. "On the contrary, it portrays the lives of individuals who are oppressed by the social system and hold on to their faith despite their struggles."

"As the play suggests, the image of crucified Christ for many may be just a pendant to display, but for those who suffer, it is the sign that their savior is with them," Das observed.

Nude Nuns

On Tuesday, Church Militant reported on priests from Kerala photographing nude pictures of nuns and teachers while enjoying consensual relationships with them.

Lay leaders from the Association of Concerned Catholics confronted Cdl. Oswald Gracias, a close advisor to Pope Francis, with the nude images on April 14, and threatened to release the photographs to the international media if the priests were not defrocked.

After repeated persuasion, I oblige, and show him 'a female.'

Whistleblower nuns from Kerala have documented extensive abuse in convents, including heterosexual abuse by priests and lesbian abuse by superiors. Nuns are also psychologically abused, often to the point of mental breakdown, and forced to have abortions when they get pregnant.

Sister Jesme's Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun, published by Penguin Books in 2009, describes her 33 years in the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. Jesme says she was shocked to discover priests were forcing novices to have sex with them.

Award-winning Catholic author Francis Noronha

The nun talks about something called "special love" and narrates how her senior, Sr. Vimy, would write love letters and leave them in prayer books. At night, Vimy would creep into Jesme's bed, telling Jesme that "she is cautious to have sex only with women lest she becomes pregnant."

Occasionally, "she goes to the priests for sex," Jesme (born Meamy Raphael) writes. Sister Vimy, who teaches in the Malayalam language department, was later caught having a lesbian relationship with a student while she was overseeing the girls' hostel as a warden.

While attending a refresher course at Dharwad University, Sr. Jesme, who is a professor of English literature, recounts how a priest seduced her in his room. She writes, "Although I resist undressing myself, after repeated persuasion, I oblige, and show him 'a female.'"

In her book titled In the Name of the Lord: A Nun's Tell-All, published by Harper Collins in 2022, Sr. Lucy Kalapura, an ex-Franciscan Clarist Congregation nun, says that her first instance of lesbian abuse at the convent was at the age of 24.

The sister goes on to recount four attempts at sexual abuse by priests. While predatory incidents are rampant, Kalapura notes that nuns too, at times, initiate physical relationships spurred by sexual desire or the ambition to accrue power within the Church hierarchy.

Pontiff Admits Nun Abuse

Pope Francis candidly acknowledged in 2019 that priests were sexually abusing nuns and even keeping them as sex slaves.

Numerous nuns had denounced "widespread" exploitation in convents and residences for priests, the pontiff noted, remarking, "I ask them to fight when they are treated unfairly ... when their enormous contribution is reduced to servitude by the men of the Church."

The play is not against the Church or the convent. 

The pontiff cited the recently published book The Veil of Silence by Italian journalist Salvatore Cernuzio, which describes nuns' experiences of "mobbing, blackmail, manipulation, discrimination based on nationality, violations of conscience, and health problems used as pretext for marginalization."

"Kerala is a super-conservative society where priests and religious are kept on a pedestal as paragons of virtue. Socializing openly is a taboo for a priest or a nun," an Indian priest who has documented sexual relations in his order told Church Militant. 

"There are many priests and nuns in Kerala who are often frustrated individuals, who, given a chance, are ready to jump out of their robes and give vent to their instincts," he lamented. "Of course, there are many good priests and nuns, but quite a many who are sexually 'frustrated religious leaders.'"


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines

Loading Comments