Nepal: Two Elderly Religious Sisters in Prison on Proselytizing Charges

nepal sisters in jail

After adopting a new constitution in 2015 and the new penal code prohibiting proselytism, persecution of Christians in Nepal has increased.  

Newsroom (Oct 26, 2021 12:22 PM, Gaudium Press) Two missionaries from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres were detained for nearly a month in Nepal on charges of proselytizing and conversion activities using enticement, force and coercion.

Sisters Gemma Lucia Kim and Martha Park lived in Pokhara, 140 miles from the capital, Kathmandu, when they were arrested on September 14. The sisters were held in police custody until September 27, and were sent to district jail after being denied bail.

In his statements to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Paul Simick, Vicar Apostolic of Nepal, said that “the Catholic community in the country was shocked to hear the verdict. Despite all the assurances given that freedom on bail would be granted, the decision went against them.”

What are the charges?

The sisters ran a training center in the underprivileged neighborhoods of Pokhara. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were distributing food to the most vulnerable when they were accused of luring people into becoming Catholic by giving them low-quality food.

“We as Catholics do not force a conversion and the Korean sisters are known for doing exclusively social work,” Bishop Simick asserted.

“They have been totally dedicated to the poor for many years. Therefore, we would like to ask for a thorough investigation into what happened,” he added.

They receive no special treatment and are together with other inmates. Both sisters are elderly, and the Bishop is concerned about their health.

“The Catholic community sees this incident as an attack on minority communities and an attempt to criminalize mainly Christian missionary activities, such as social services, education and health, which could be interpreted as an incentive for conversion,” Bishop Simick pointed out.

In recent years, Christian churches have experienced increasing hostility and intolerance in Nepal. Indeed, foreign religious women and priests have been denied visa extensions and have been forced to leave the country.

With information from ACN

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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