Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, has written to Pope Francis, offering to step down temporarily. In a letter dated September 16, the bishop sought the permission of the Vatican saying he needed more time to travel to Kerala and fight the case.
A letter undersigned by Father Peter Kavumpuram, PRO, Diocese of Jalandhar reads, “Today 16th September 2018, Bishop, Franco Kulakkal, wrote a letter to Holy Father Pope Francis expressing his desire to step aside temporarily and requested to be relieved from the administration of the Diocese in the background of the court’s opinion that there is lack of adequate evidence to arrest Franco indicating his innocence. He decided on his own to make this request to Holy father, so that the truth may be established. He is confident that his request will be accepted by the Vatican”. Father Peter confirmed the letter.
According to sources, the bishop took the decision after meeting his legal advisers, who had advised him to step down before the Vatican City asks him to. A senior father in Doaba region said that they received this communication from the Bishop house on Sunday evening that Bishop wants to get relieved but there is no information on how the new Bishop will be appointed or will the charge be given to someone else on a temporary basis.
Amid mounting criticism over alleged inaction and delay, the Kerala police has directed the bishop to appear before it on September 19 for further investigations. The decision to arrest the priest will be taken post-questioning. The bishop told earlier that he will go to Kerala if the police asked him to join the investigation there.
Mulakkal has meanwhile denied the charges levelled by the nun, saying that a “conspiracy” has been hatched by a group of people who are against the church. “The nun is lying, made up the case against me because I had ordered action against her,” the bishop said.
The nun has also sought the intervention of the Vatican, questioning why the Church was “closing its eyes to the truth” when she mustered the courage to make public her sufferings. Accusing the bishop of sending lewd messages and obscene pictures over the phone, the nun alleged that she was raped and subjected to unnatural sex 13 times since 2014 at a convent in Kuravilangad.
After her allegations became public, a group of Catholic nuns took to the streets demanding bishop Mulakkal’s removal and arrest. Women in Cinema Collective, a women-only association in Malayalam film industry, extended support to the nuns.
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