Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a nun in Kerala, resigned from his post on Thursday, reported PTI.

Apostolic Nunciature to India, which is the Vatican mission in the country, said that the Roman Catholic Church sought Mulakkal’s resignation not as a disciplinary measure but for the “good of the diocese” that needs a new bishop given the divisive nature of the case against him, reported PTI.

The development comes more than a year after Mulakkal was acquitted in the rape case by a sessions court in Kerala. However, the complainant has moved the Kerala High Court challenging the order.

“In this regard, the Apostolic Nunciature wishes to specify that the Holy See [governing body of Catholic Church] respects the verdict of the Additional District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, Kerala, acquitting Bishop Mulakkal from the allegations concerning him, as well as the appeal against the acquittal, which has been admitted by the Kerala High Court,” the diplomatic mission of Vatican said, reported PTI.

On Thursday, Mulakkal announced his resignation in a video message, reported The News Minute.

“The Holy Father Pope Francis has accepted my letter of resignation as Jalandhar Bishop, which I had written after detailed discussions with my superiors,” he said. “I thank all those who stood by me and prayed for me as I went through a turbulent period over the last few years.”

The case against Mulakkal

In June 2018, a senior nun from the order of the Missionaries of Jesus of the Catholic Church had accused Mulakkal, who was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese at the time, of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at the mission convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam.

In September 2018, Mulakkal was arrested after the police questioned him for three days. A day before his arrest, the Vatican had accepted Mulakkal’s request to temporarily relieve him of administrative duties at the Jalandhar diocese.

The trial in the case had started in November 2019, more than a year after a first information report was registered against him by the Kottayam Police.