Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun in Kerala, has transferred his administrative responsibilities at the Jalandhar Diocese to a senior official. The Kerala Police have asked him to appear before them on September 19 for interrogation.
In a letter to Church officials dated Thursday, Mulakkal wrote that he was likely to be called for further clarifications by investigating officers in Kerala. He said Monsignor Mathew Kokkandam would administer the diocese in his absence “as is the normal practice”.
Mulakkal requested the officials to keep praying for him and for the complainant and her supporters “so that divine intervention may bring about change of heart and the truth of the matter may be revealed”, reported PTI. He claimed there were “several contradictions” in the evidence collected by the police.
A group of nuns has been protesting for the last few days in Kochi against the delay in a police investigation. One of them told Scroll.in they would continue the protest till Mulakkal is arrested as the transfer of responsibilities is a normal practice when he leaves the diocese.
On Saturday, a group of Catholic priests from the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church visited the protesting nuns to show their support. The visit was in defiance of the stand taken by the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, a powerful Bishop body that has criticised the protests.
“We are not here to judge anyone,” said one of the priests. “We wish to see the Church delivering justice to the nuns.”
In June, a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused Mulakkal of raping her multiple times between 2014 and 2016. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – one in Kottayam and the other in Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.
On Thursday, the Kerala High Court said it would monitor the investigation to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are not intimidated. The court said it was satisfied with the ongoing police investigation, and dismissed a petition seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The court refused to order the police to arrest Mulakkal and said it would hear the case after the police interrogate him.
The following day, the Missionaries of Jesus said its internal investigation had found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has repeatedly defended Mulakkal, and had also accused the nun of having a relationship with a taxi driver.