10/18/2018, 09.43
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Jalandhar bishop accused of rape returns home to a welcome of petals and garlands

by Nirmala Carvalho

Msgr. Franco Mulakkal was granted release on bail in a trail that sees him implicated in Kerala. Waiting for him in Punjab also Msgr. Agnelo Gracias, current diocesan administrator.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Following his release on bail in a trial on rape charges in Kerala, yesterday Msgr. Franco Mulakkal returned home to his diocese of Jalandhar (in Punjab). Here, awaiting him there were many faithful, religious and Msgr. Agnelo Gracias, whom Pope Francis has appointed regent of the diocese in place of the resigning bishop.

Arriving around 5 pm (local time), he was welcomed by some girls who scattered flower petals all around and placed garlands around his necks. Msgr Mulakkal spent three weeks behind bars in Pala (Kerala) on charges of multiple counts of rape of a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus The judges granted him the release after the third request by the lawyers, imposing precise conditions for his release.

In a brief conference with journalists, Msgr. Mulakkal thanked the citizens of Punjab for the blessings and prayers during this period. "Thank you for staying by my side - he said - in this painful hour. The investigations continue  and I'm collaborating. I am satisfied and I have faith in the justice of our country".

The resigning bishop has specified that diocese Msgr. Gracias will remain at the head of the for the time being, since the case is still open. In any case, he added from the chair reserved for the bishop in residence, "when a bishop is consecrated, he remains so even if he retires".

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