An Interview with Sr. Lissy Vadakel
Transcribed to English, so that more people can understand and listen to this strong woman of faith with a conviction to support a quest for justice at a great personal cost—Anita Cheria
Sr. Lissy in an interview to Asianet News aired on 1st December 2019 talks about how she finds the humiliation, isolation and enmity being shown to her by her congregation, some members of the church and church authorities reaching unbearable levels. She talks about being pressurized to change her statement as a prime witness in the Franco case. Given below is her link to her interview in Malayalam.
“I gave my statement being fully aware of what I said and implications, it is the truth and under no conditions will I change my statement, or withdraw it.
Many have tried to speak to me out of love, friendship or a sense of enmity to convince me that giving a statement against the bishop would bring shame to the Catholic Church, to its reverence and prestige. They have sent word through my retreat team members and friends. Saying that if I give a statement accusing the bishop of such a crime, it will bring shame, damage the ‘Body of Christ’ [i.e. the Church]. People have spoken to me directly, over the phone, sent word through others and tried in several ways, and several times to convince me.
An elderly lady who met me went to the extent of telling me how do deny the statement, she said, “Anyway some sisters from your own congregation are saying that you have lost your mind. When you are called to court you can say that one day when I was excited and disturbed, and lacked clarity, as I suffer from this mental issue, that is when I made this statement, in a disturbed weak moment, and you did not really mean it. You can say that and withdraw your statement. Don’t give this statement against the bishop. Just like if you strike at the roots the branches of the tree will dry up, if you complain like this against the bishop our Catholic community will suffer. So sister please withdraw your statement.” To which I replied that I will never under any circumstances make such a denial. A wrong took place and I am a witness, and I will stand by the truth and my statement. What Bishop Franco did was a crime, he needs to be convicted for it, that way the complainant – the sister – will get justice. And justice should prevail.
Bishop Franco is a bishop in a mission area outside Kerala. He has immense influence, money and power. It is because of this that he had this false impression that he could come to Kerala, commit such wrong doings against this sister and get away with it.
If the investigations and cross questioning is done honestly and completed efficiently I am fully convinced that he will be convicted. If in between the witnesses are influenced with money, bribe or misuse of power and evidence is tampered with, or the officers shirk their duty, then of course there is a possibility that he will not be convicted. He should be convicted, that is the reason why for the last 10 months I am undergoing the pain of being isolated, being singled out and humiliated as an enemy of the Catholic Community, as a follower of devil’s advocate. The pain I experience – intense pain – is only to accomplish this.
So for me the sooner the court hearing for this case are completed I will get a relief from this treatment. This isolation and being targeted as an enemy of my congregation, of my community of the church and of Christ has reached an unbearable level.