"They want to split all of us and put into different locations in India," the nuns said in a letter to Kerala authorities. "We will not be able to appear and give evidence before the court at the trial stage in such situations."
The nuns spoke out in support of a fellow nun who alleged, last year, that Bishop Franco Mulakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
The head of St. Francis Home, Regina Kadamthottu, responded that the nuns have ignored their religious responsibilities and adopted a "rebellious posture."
"I urge you earnestly not to make your legal obligations in the case an alibi to compromise our affirmed religious vows and principles of community life," Kadamthottu added.
The nuns, five of whom were reportedly served notice by the church, also accused the church of indirectly forcing the 44-year-old victim into isolation.
"The victim in the above-referred crime is actually living at the strength and support being extended from our side. Our presence itself is a great solace for her, who is totally in a broken situation," the letter stated.
The nuns have now reportedly petitioned the chief minister of Kerala to intervene, charging that church officials have ordered them to leave the state.
"Ever since the issue came to our attention, we have petitioned church elders. We wrote to the apostolic nuncio (Vatican representative in India), to Kerala's main cardinal and to three separate ecclesiastical bodies in Rome, all to no avail. Now the Church is torturing us and are trying to pick us apart one by one," Sister Anupama told TOI.
"The recent developments show that we are not safe in any aspects considering the power, influence and the 'past activities' of the other side,” according to the group letter, which some 50 people - including social activists, writers, journalists and academics - have endorsed.
Meanwhile, Punjab-based Mulakkal, who is currently out on bail pending trial, has denied all charges against him.