KOTTAYAM: The order of Apostolic Administrator of Jalandhar, Agnelo Gracias, to withhold the transfer of five nuns of St Francis Mission home, Kuravilangadu, is as per the Canon law provisions.
According to Canon 427, 1, the apostolic administrator has the rights and authority to discharge the functions of the bishop. According to 427, 2, he receives the authority after confirming his appointment and does not need anyone else's ratification.
Since the Missionaries of Jesus is a diocesan congregation, the bishop can take major decisions on the congregation.
Canon law experts agree with this view. "In a diocesan congregation, the bishop has such authority and can take decisions if the bylaws of the congregation do not say otherwise," Father Antony Kurisinkal, judicial vicar of the Kottapuram diocese, told Deccan Chronicle.
Bisop Agnelo Gracious, in the letter sent to the five nuns-- Anupama, Neena Rose, Ancitta, Alphy and Josephine-- expressed his surprise over the move to transfer the nuns and said that he was directing Regina Kadamthottu, superior-general of the congregation, not to issue any transfer letter to the nuns without his permission. He also issued an order withholding the transfer.
However, Jalandhar diocese PRO Peter Kavumpuram, in a press release, said that the congregation superior-general has the authority to transfer the nuns and that the bishop or the diocese does not normally interfere unless the overall interests of the Church demands such interference. He also said that the transfer the nuns had not been revoked.
Sister Anupama said that taking into account the extraordinary situation prevailing in Jalandhar and in view of the rape case against bishop Franco Mulakkal, the apostolic administrator has the right to take a decision.