09/15/2018, 12.25
INDIA
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Kerala, rumors of rape accused bishop’s resignation fake news

by Nirmala Carvalho

Bishop Mulakkal declares: "I try to endure, I feel pain but I trust in the Lord". Supported by four sisters, a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus denounced the alleged abuses, suffered between 2014 and 2016. Investigations still ongoing. The religious protest in front of the High Court and accuse police and Church. The Keralese Episcopal Conference: "The protests organized by those who have an interest in leaving the religious on the front line".

Kochi (AsiaNews) - Msgr. Franco Mulakkal has not resigned. The rumors that circulated in recent hours on some media that the bishop of the diocese of Jalandar (in Punjab) succumbed to pressure from rape allegations against him by a nun in Kerala  are fake news.

The story exploded in early July. Supported by four sisters, the religious of the Missionaries of Jesus denounced alleged abuses suffered by Msgr. Mulakkal between 2014 and 2016, in a hostel owned by the Church in Kuravilangad. The bishop denies what is attributed to him. On the contrary, he claims that the Sister's disclosure, several years after  the alleged violence, is motivated by personal revenge: he had decided to remove her from the role of superior of the congregation. The prelate also raises the suspicions of a "conspiracy" against him for political ends.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr. Mulakkal declares: "We rely on the Lord and continue to pray. It is like being subjected to severe mental torture by external forces. What cannot be changed should be borne. This is what I'm trying to do. I am totally tense. I trust in the Lord. I feel profound pain in the media process, I am completely helpless ".

The police conducted extensive investigations, both in Kerala and Jalandhar. A first informative report (Fir) was filed against the bishop, along with a 114-page document containing detailed statements by the nun and the convent personnel. Two days ago, the High Court of Kerala declared that "the problem is not the arrest". Since this is an old case, the judges stress that the investigation will take time and that "the most important thing is not  detention, but the final punishment of the accused".

The Jalandhar police said they await the testimony given by the bishop to the Kerala authorities. DySP K Subhash, who is conducting investigations for the local police, has notified Msgr. Mulakkal a subpoena for September 19th. In the meantime, five nuns from the Kottayam convent, the same as the victim, protested in front of the High Court of Kerala for over a week, to demand the arrest of the bishop. The religious insist that theirs is a cry of justice and not against the Church. It is the first time that the sisters are on a war footing in the state that has contributed to Christianity with three saints, two of whom are nuns.

"We have asked many superiors to ask for help - Sister Anupama says - but everyone has ignored our repeated requests. We are spouses of Jesus Christ, we entered the convent by our own will. What do we do if the basic principles are wiped out? As a last resort we were forced to go to the streets ". The religious say that local ecclesiastical hierarchies have tried to dissuade them and persuade them to back down, even attempting to corrupt the victim. After the refusal, they would have been the object of intimidation and defamation. "We are ready to die, if this is useful to relieve the sisters whose lives are confined in four walls. For the rest of our lives we will remain nuns, even if they deconsecrate us ", concludes Sr. Anupama.

Two days ago, the Episcopal Conference of Kerala issued a statement stating that the protests of the nuns have exceeded all limits. "It is organized by some people who have interests to leave the five nuns on the front line," reads the note. The document also states that their complaints are led by unbelievers.

Sister Anupama declares that she and her sisters are shocked not so much by the reactions of the Church as by the "indifferent attitude" of the police. "We did not expect anything more from the ecclesiastical authorities - she reiterates - but the police have disappointed us so much. If the defendant had been a common man, would the police have given him so much time? Despite the great clamor, I do not know why they fear to touch the accused. It is nothing but money and brute force ".

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