Nuns urge church to take action against Mulakkal under Canon law
A day after the second complaint of sexual harassment against the deposed bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mullakal, surfaced, Kerala nuns fighting for justice for the first complainant asked church authorities not to shield him and take action against him under the Canon law.
The statement of one of the witnesses surfaced on Friday in which she said she had also undergone sexual harassment by Mulakkal. But the police did not file a separate case against him after the 36-year-old nun insisted that she was not willing to pursue the matter, said Kollam superintendent of police Harishankar, who has supervised the probe.
“We are happy another nun has come out to narrate her plight. We want church authorities to take action against him under relevant Cannon law. It is time for the church to stand with the victim, not the perpetrator,” said Sister Anupama, who led a month-long hunger strike in Kochi for the arrest of Mullakal in 2018.
Five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation had come out to support the nun who accused Mulakkal of rape.
The victim and five nuns have been confined to a convent in Kottayam and leading a secluded life since they raised the complaint and led the campaign against Franco Mullakal. They were not allowed to participate in religious services, and there have been attempts to transfer them to different location.
“We want the church to support us and end our isolation and agony,” said Sister Anupama.
Sister Lucy Kalappura, another nun who was expelled from the congregation on grounds of “serious indiscipline,” said more nuns will come out to depose against the former bishop if the police provide them protection.
“It is good nuns are coming out to narrate their sexual exploitations. They are not slaves. It is time for the church to check further decay and set things right,” she said. She had claimed she was expelled from the congregation for supporting the campaign against Mullakal two years ago.
The case against Mullakal surfaced in June 2018 after a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, complained to the police in Kottayam that Mulakkal had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab. But Mulakkal denied her accusation and claimed he had been framed after he took action against her over “financial irregularities” in the convent. He was arrested in September 2018.
Meanwhile, the additional district court in Kottayam on Saturday heard the petition of Mulakkal to discharge him from the case. The proceedings were in-camera, and reporters were not allowed to cover them.
Mullakal was not present in the court.. His counsel B Raman Pillai questioned the selective leaking of the statement of one of the witnesses in the court. But the prosecution contended that repeated pleas of Mullakal were aimed at delaying the trial.
This is the first time in the country that a senior functionary of the church is facing rape charges. Mullakal is charged under Section 342 (wrongful confinement), Section 367 (K) (rape on a woman incapable of giving her consent), 366 C & 377 (unnatural offence) and Section 506 (1) of the Indian Penal Code. If convicted, he will get jail term not less than 12 years.