In response to a letter the Catholic bishop of the Syrian Malabar Church, Franco Mulakkal had sent to Pope Francis of Vatican four days back stating that he wanted to relinquish his office temporarily, in order to fight the case against him for allegedly raping a nun, a statement from the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) said the bishop was relieved of his pastoral duties. The statement read, “Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by Vatican.”
Replacing Mulakkal, the Pope had appointed Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Bombay, Agnelo Rufino Gracias as the Apostolic Administrator of the Jalandhar Diocese with immediate effect, the statement said. The announcement comes amidst the interrogation Mulakkal is facing from the Special Investigation Team for the second day. The interrogation is still going on and according to the police sources, the arrest of Mulakkal can happen in a day or two. A nun, belonging to the same Jalandhar Diocese has lodged a complaint stating that the bishop raped her. Based on that, the SIT, headed by DYSP K Subash has been interrogating the priest for the last two days. As the questioning is likely to be extended to the next day, the protest by various Catholic reformation entities and group of nuns have entered its 13th day today, with the public support growing by each day.
Meanwhile, the nun who is alleged to have been abused by the priest had also sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and asked for immediate removal of the bishop as the head of Jalandhar Diocese. The nun had questioned as to why the church was closing its eyes to the truth, when she had made up her mind to make public her suffering. The affected nun had also alleged that Mulakkal was using political as well as money power to bury the case against him. She further alleged that between 2014 and 2016, the bishop had sexually assaulted her repeatedly, a charge, which was vehemently denied by the clergyman. The priest had dismissed the allegation terming it as baseless and concocted and further insisted that she had levelled these allegations as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.