|Sister Mary Chandy at her orphanage|
A former Catholic nun in Kerala has run into legal trouble after the ghostwriter of her autobiography disowned the book, describing it as a pack of lies.
Mary Chandy, 68, who claims to be a former nun of the Daughters of the Presentation of Mary, had written in her book that abortions and sexual harassment were rife within religious congregations in India.
The book, Swasthy [Hail]: The Revelations of Sister Mary Chandy, was released in April and became a best seller in Malyalam, the south Indian state’s native language.
But Jose Pazhookkaran, who assisted Chandy in writing the book, has filed a criminal complaint against her. “I was forced to take such a move after I found that she was never a nun. I was misled by her,” the 46-year-old writer told ucanews.com.
Pazhookkaran said Chandy told him she left the Presentation convent 13 years ago, after a priest tried to sexually abuse her. She narrated several further stories of sexual abuses against nuns in the convent, he said.
“I found the stuff explosive and wrote her biography, but later several people told me that she was only a kitchen maid at the convent,” he added.
This accords with the congregation’s earlier insistence that Chandy was never a member.
The Syro-Malabar Church has also investigated the revelations in the book and said her claims were false.
However, Chandy has rejected Pazhookkaran’s claims and says he tried to blackmail her once the book became a success.
Chandy, who runs an orphanage for 17 destitute children, said: “When many people started sending money to help our children in the orphanage, he wanted donations to be routed through his bank account.” She added that it was Pazhookkaran who insisted on writing the biography.
Meanwhile, Pazhookkaran has also written to the publisher of the book, asking for it to be withdrawn from the market. But the publishers, Kairalee Books, have refused, saying they would publish another book by Chandy.
“We are not a party to the tussle between Chandy and the ghostwriter,” said Kairalee’s managing director O. Ashok Kumar.
India: Context more important than condemnation, caritas india spokeswoman says.