Rape accused Bishop offers Pope Francis temporary resignation
by Nirmala Carvalho

Msgr Franco Mulakkal would entrust the diocese of Jalandar (in Punjab) to the vicar's leadership. On September 19, he will be interrogated by the police in Kerala. Secretary of the Episcopal Conference denies the request for resignation by Card. Oswald Gracias.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The bishop of Jalandar (in Punjab), Msgr. Franco Mulakkal, who stands accused of raping a nun has written a letter to Pope Francis asking to be temporarily relieved of his episcopal ministry. Yesterday Fr. Peter Kavumpuram, head of public relations in the diocese, issued a note stating that the prelate's decision was taken following the observations of the Kerala High Court. The judges established that the lack of adequate evidence to arrest the bishop "indicates his innocence".

The document states that Msgr. Mulakkal decided in full autonomy to write to the pontiff, expressing his desire to take a step back in the administration of the diocese, unlike previous claims. The text in English reads that “he is confident that his request will be accepted".

As a "praxis", in a letter dated September 13, the bishop said he wanted to entrust the diocese located in the State of Punjab to the vicar general. Msgr. Mulakkal, home to the headquarters of the Missionaries of Jesus, the congregation of which the 43-year-old sister is a member. The latter reported that in 2014 the bishop raped after calling her [in private] with the excuse to discuss important issues. The nun spoke about being raped 13 times in the next two years.

Bishop Mulakkal strongly rejected the accusations, and claims that the nun is acting in revenge. In fact, the bishop had threatened an investigation against her after discovering a relationship with a married man.

The High Court of Kerala rejected the hypothesis of the arrest warrant. "Let the police interrogate him again - said the judges - we will open the hearings after all this". The police in Kerala called the bishop to testify on September 19; the court, will hear the case on the 24th.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), speaking on behalf of all the bishops expressed "anxiety about the developments of the accusations against the bishop of Jalandar".

Responding to those who have complained about the ecclesiastical hierarchy "silence" on the case, he adds that "the Cbci has no jurisdiction over individual bishops".

Finally, he denied some comments attributed to Card. Oswald Gracias, president of the CBCI, that he asked the bishop to resign. Rumors had been leaked in recent days by the spokesman of the archdiocese of Mumbai (led by Cardinal Gracias). "The spokesman's comments - says Msgr. Mascarenhas - are personal, and as such they must be considered ".