Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused in the Kerala nun rape case, has said he has temporarily handed over the charge of Jalandhar diocese to monsignor Mathew Kokandam amid an ongoing probe by the Kerala police.
In a circular dated September 13, Bishop Franco Mulakkal said: “I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and prayers for me at this time continued problems affecting my Episcopal ministry. As you have probably come to know from the media the investigation into the allegations raised against me there are several contradictions in the evidences collected against me as per the report of the police. It is reported am likely to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala.”
He further wrote that he leaves “everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation.” “In my absence Msgr. Mathew Kokkandam will administer the Diocese as is the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese,” the Bishop said in the circular.
Amid reports that the Bishop was pressured to step down by Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the CBCI today clarified in a statement that “they have not asked the Bishop to step down and that it is beyond their jurisdiction.”
The Jalandhar police has served a notice to the Franco Mullakal to appear before the Kerala police on September 19.
The Kerala nun rape case has also been brought to the notice of Vatican and a representative from the Vatican is already in India to discuss the issue with Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto. The Archbishop is yet to take a decision in the matter.
The minorities commission will also be presenting a memorandum to the Archbishop of Delhi asking for the removal of the Bishop.
The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was “closing its eyes to the truth”, when she had mustered courage to make public her suffering.
She alleged that Bishop Mulakkal was using “political and money power” to “bury” the case against him. The nun has accused the clergyman of repeated sexual assault between 2014 and 2016.
The bishop has, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless and concocted”, insisting she levelled charges against the catholic order as it had rejected her demand for favours.
Kerala police on Friday registered a complaint against the Missionaries of Jesus hours after the congregation released a photograph of the nun, seated with the accused.
The congregation put out the photograph in a release issued to the media to publish the findings of its enquiry commission, which looked into the nun’s allegations. Indian laws prohibit revealing the identity of rape and sexual assault survivors and victims.
The congregation, however, cautioned against publishing the photograph, saying it cannot be held responsible if the press violates the rule.
The case was registered by the Kuravilangadu police station in Kottayam district on the complaint filed by the alleged survivor’s brother, officials said. The convent is located within the Kuravilangadu police station limits.