The Syro Malabar Church in Kerala has issued a warning to a priest for organising protests in support of a nun who has accused a bishop of rape, NDTV reported on Thursday. The priest, Father Augstine Vattoly, is the convener of “Save Our Sisters”, which had organised a protest outside the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on November 14.
The protest was held to demand the cancellation of the bail granted to rape-accused Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal and an investigation into the death of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, a witness against Mulakkal.
“It is reported to me that you are organising a dharna at the secretariat of Kerala state, in the name of the movement ‘Save Our Sisters’ of which you are said to be the convener,” a letter from Mar Jacob Manathodath to Vattoly read, The News Minute reported. “I am told that such actions by a priest will seriously injure the good of the church in public and will cause scandal among the faithful. Therefore, I hereby strongly prohibit you from organising and attending the dharna and similar activities. Disobedience will incur ecclesiastical actions as per the church law.”
Manathodath, who is an apostolic administrator at the Ernakulam-Angamaly diocese, accused Vattoly of associating himself with anti-ecclesiastical and extremist groups. “Some of the groups are said to be plotting against the church to hurt religion and the church,” he added. “Some of your activities are said to be refusal to the authority of the Church.” He also alleged that Vattoly’s speeches have incited sedition and hatred against the church.
In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam. The police arrested Mulakkal on September 21 after three days of questioning.
Mulakkal has repeatedly denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He has filed a complaint against his accuser and five other nuns, alleging that they are framing him.
Kattuthara, who had deposed against Mulakkal, was found dead in his room at the St Paul’s Convent School in Jalandhar on October 22. His family has accused Mulakkal of harassing him.