09/22/2018, 17.16
INDIA
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Indian bishop arrested for rape hospitalised

by Nirmala Carvalho

Mgr Franco Mulakkal experienced chest pain on his way to hospital for medical examinations. For former Caritas India director, “The Church respects the law; it does not avoid it.” The president of the Bishops’ Conference has “full confidence in the judicial system of our country”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Mgr Franco Mulakkal, the Indian bishop arrested yesterday in Kottayam (Kerala) after a nun accused him of rape, was admitted to hospital after he was suddenly taken ill.

The bishop, who suffers from high blood pressure, felt chest pain yesterday as he was taken to Kottayam Medical Hospital for medical examinations after he was formally charged following questioning.

Upon arrival, the doctors who treated him said his blood pressure shot up. For now, the bishop remains in hospital. According to police, if he is not released soon, he will be further questioned in the medical facility.

Mgr Mulakkal is embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal involving a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus. The case came to light in July but became front-page news when a group of nuns organised a protest demanding justice for the victim of the alleged violence.

For his part, the bishop has always denied the allegations, claiming that the charges are the result of personal revenge.

A few days ago, he asked for a leave of absence as head of the Diocese of Jalandhar (in Punjab). Pope Francis accepted his request two days ago, relieving him of his post.

"Sexual abuse is a crime and must be dealt with the law,” said Fr Frederick D'Souza, former director of Caritas India, speaking to AsiaNews. “Taking him into custody is a good thing right now so that the Church can be cleaned up.”

“The Church's attitude is to respect the law of the state, to work with the legal system and submit to the mechanisms of the law. The Church respects the law; it does not avoid it.”

With respect to the victim, "The Church offers all her sympathy and pastoral care. In doing so, she follows the example of the Holy Father who has apologised for the abuses committed by the Church. The Church must ask for forgiveness for the traumas she has caused but at the same time [we have to wait] because responsibility has not been determined. The investigation is still underway."

Yesterday, when Mgr Mulakkal’s arrest was reported, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) released a statement signed by its president, Card Oswald Gracias.

The note reads: “We have learnt from the media about the developments in Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s case. It is a sad moment for all of us. We pray for all involved: Bishop Franco, the nun concerned, the diocese of Jalandhar and the Congregation of the Missionaries of Jesus.

“We have full confidence in the judicial system of our country. As said before we expect the law to take its course and for the truth to emerge. At this moment our prayers is for healing.”

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