New Delhi: The National Commission for Women (NCW) wrote a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan on Wednesday requesting him to “take prompt action to ensure prevention of sabotage of material evidence and witnesses in the pending case against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, so that justice may prevail.”

On January 27 this year, an NGO named Save Our Sisters (SOS) had written a letter to the Kerala CM and demanded immediate action to forestall the transfer order of the nuns who protested against Mullakkal. The letter read: “The rape survivor & the other five nuns who supported her in the case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal are facing an imminent threat of being separated & sent away from Kerala by the Missionaries of Jesus.”

Currently, the nuns are receiving government protection at their convent. The five nuns who had protested against Mulakkal were transferred by the Catholic Church in Kerala from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuravilangad. They were later asked to move out of the congregation’s premises as per the order.

Speaking of sexual abuse among the nuns, Pope Francis on Wednesday publicly admitted that Catholic priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns. For the first time, the pontiff in response to a question on the Kerala nun rape issue that there are some priests as well as bishops who had sexually abused nuns, AFP reported.

The Pope further said that the abuse of nuns was prevalent in “some new congregations and in some regions”. He added that “I think it’s still going on because it’s not something that just goes away like that.”

Francis asserted that the Church has been “working” on the issue for long, and taken action against “several clerics”. The pope said that the issue lies in the culture of “seeing women as a second class”.

This development comes in the backdrop of Vatican’s women’s magazine raising the issue of abuse of nuns not being acknowledged by their priest fathers.