The arrest of arrest of a Missionary of Charity (MC) nun of Mother Teresa and an employee at a shelter for unwed mothers in eastern India’s Ranchi city, for allegedly selling a newborn baby, has led Indian authorities to order inspections of all homes run by the nuns.
The arrest early this month followed a complaint by an Indian couple that they paid Rs.120,000 to Anima Indwar, an employee at the Nirmal Hriday shelter run by the nuns in the capital of Jharkhand state.
Sr. Prema’s official statement
MC Superior General, Sister Mary Prema, issued a press release on Tuesday saying the sale of the newborn had "nothing to do with the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity".
“We are deeply saddened and grieved by the recent developments” at the MC home, she wrote in the official statement. “ Even while we place our full trust in the judicial process that is underway, we wish to express regret and sorrow for what happened and desire to express in unequivocal terms our condemnation of individual actions which have nothing to do” with the MC congregation.
While expressing confidence in the law and in the courts, Sr. Prema regretted the “many myths being spread, information distorted and false news being diffused and baseless innuendos being thrown about regarding the Mother Teresa Sisters.”
In her press release, Sr Prema narrates that when Karishma Toppo, the unwed mother, delivered her baby on May 1 at the Nirmal Hriday shelter, she declared in the register she would surrender her child to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the district–level government authority in charge of putting children up for adoption.
Indwar, who was greatly trusted by the nuns, accompanied Toppo and her guardian to surrender the baby to the CWC, but, Sr. Prema notes, the centre nor the sisters could ascertain whether the child was actually surrendered to the CWC, as the committee issues no acknowledgement after taking custody of a child.
On being questioned about the baby on July 3 by the CWC, Indwar admitted the baby was sold elsewhere. She was handed over to the police.
It later came to light that of the Rs. 120,000 paid by the adopting couple, Indwar took Rs.20,000, the watchman Rs.10,000 and Toppo, the biological mother, Rs.90,000 to pursue her studies.
The following day, Sr. Concelia, in charge of the unwed mothers’ section, and Sr. Marie Deanne, the superior of Nirmal Hriday were arrested. Sr. Deanne was released later.
Maligning Mother Teresa and the Church
What happened at the Nirmal Hriday centre in Ranchi is “sad, tragic, condemnable, unacceptable” regretted Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), as well as auxiliary bishop of Ranchi. However, the Missionaries of Charity congregation is “absolutely not involved in this,” he told Mirror Now TV channel.
Speaking to Vatican News on the phone, Bishop Mascarenhas said that vested interests are exploiting the issue to malign Mother Teresa and the Catholic Church.
When asked about the official declaration by Sr. Prema, the CBCI official outlined her statement in three points. The MC head has expressed regret and sorrow at what has happened at the order’s Ranchi centre. Secondly, the nuns are not at all involved and are not responsible for individual actions of some people. Lastly, the nuns are praying for justice and they are “open to a free and fair justice enquiry.” They are also praying for all who stood by them and continue to stand by them.