Rape-accused Jalandhar bishop writes to Pope and offers to ‘step aside’

The Bishop’s move came ahead of his appearance before the Kerala Police team on September 19 in connection with the case

Priests come forward to support nuns as they protest against the delay in action against the rape-accused bishop.


Kochi: Senior Catholic priest Franco Mulakkal, facing probe after a nun accused him of rape, has written a letter to the Pope, offering to “step aside temporarily” as bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, the Church said on Monday.

A spokesman of the diocese told PTI that the bishop wrote to the Pope on Sunday.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal has written “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,” the Jalandhar diocese said in a release.

The bishop’s move came ahead of his appearance before the Kerala Police team on September 19 in connection with the case.

The nun had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016.

The bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless and concocted”, insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours. 

Nuns protest

Meanwhile, a group of nuns from a convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala’s Kottayam district, are on protest demanding the arrest of the rape-accused bishop.

Mulakkal handed over administration of the diocese to monsignor Mathew Kokkandam.

In a letter to his diocese members, Mulakkal said he was “likely to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala”.

He added, “I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation”.

The decision by Mulakkal to submit to the investigating officers, however, has not prompted the nuns to call off their protest.

“He has only handed over charge to someone temporarily. He retains all the authority of the bishop, and only an intervention from the Vatican can change that,” one of the protesting nuns, Sr Anupama, told media persons. “We will not rest and we will not be happy until he is questioned and arrested.”

The protest in Kochi has continued to attract support with each passing day. On Saturday, bishop Thomas K. Oommen, moderator of the Church of South India, commented that the authorities “should not have delayed action in the case”.

He said the delay in legal action against the bishop complicated the matter.

Popular writer, Paul Zacharia said he was “in solidarity with the nuns both as a writer and as a citizen”, adding that the government was duty bound to provide justice to the aggrieved nun at the earliest.

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