Bishop accused of rape continues to pray and claim his innocence from a Kerala jail

Mgr Jacob Murickan visited him in prison. The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India speaks out on the matter, slamming the media for insinuating that the Church is involved in a cover-up.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Mgr Franco Mulakkal is praying and continues to claim he is innocent, this according to Mgr Jacob Murickan, auxiliary bishop of Pala, Kerala, who visited him in prison on 25 September.

The bishop of Jalandhar (Punjab), who took a leave of absence, was arrested ten days ago on rape charges brought by a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus.

"I talked to him for 15 minutes,” Mgr Murickan told AsiaNews. “His faith is strong. He told me that he spends his time praying."

Meanwhile, the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), Card Oswald Gracias, has spoken out in this case, slamming media attacks against the Church.

In a statement released yesterday, drafted at the end of the meeting of the CBCI Standing Committee (27-28 September), the cardinal said that he and his fellow bishops met in prayer "to bless the Church in India, to strengthen us and to guide all of us in the carrying out of our responsibilities."

The Committee, the statement says, "reflected on recent happenings in the Church in India” and has a special thought for Mgr Mulakkal.

"We are deeply pained at the recent developments with the Bishop of Jalandhar and the constant attacks by the media on the Church implying that it was trying to cover up this case. This accusation does not correspond to the truth. Church authorities have studied and continue to examine this serious and complex matter.”

Card Gracias said that he has "full confidence in the judicial system of our country” and calls for prayers for all the people involved.

"We pray for the Church in India. We pray for unity. We pray that the Gospel values become more and more [like a] moving spirit for our life and our work." (NC)