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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal who allegedly raped Kerala nun many times relieved of duties by Vatican

The Bishop has been accused of rape by a nun and was questioned by Kerala police.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2018 17:41 IST
Vikas Datta
Vikas Datta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal was questioned by the Kerala Police for seven hours on Thursday.
Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal was questioned by the Kerala Police for seven hours on Thursday.(ANI/Twitter)

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who allegedly raped a nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016, was on Thursday temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties, the Catholic Church said.

The Vatican relieved Franco Mulakkal of his pastoral duties and appointed Bishop Emeritus of the archdiocese of Bombay Agnelo Rufino Gracias as the apostolic administrator of the Jalandhar diocese with immediate effect, said Catholic Bishop Conference of India president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias in a statement.

The announcement came as Kerala police began questioning Mulakkal for the second day after a seven-hour interrogation on Wednesday.

The Pope took the decision in response to Mulakkal’s September 16 letter offering to “step aside temporarily” as the Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council spokesman Father Varghese Vallikkattu told PTI.

“I request you to relieve me from the administration of the Diocese in the background of the court’s opinion,” Mulakkal said in his letter, sent a day after he appointed vicar general Mathew Kokkandam to administer the diocese.

In June, the 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, had complained to the police that Mullakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala.

The Missionaries of Jesus nuns have been protesting past several days in Kochi demanding the arrest of the Bishop and criticising the Kerala police for delaying it. From a small protest by five nuns, it has virtually grown into a movement over the past week with nuns and priests from various churches joining in.

The victim had pointed out that she had been questioned seven times while the accused just once. She has accused Mulakkal of using his influence. Mulakkal has rejected the allegations, calling them a conspiracy against the church.

First Published: Sep 20, 2018 16:46 IST

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