Pope accepts the resignation of Bishop Mulakkal, the Indian prelate accused of rape by a nun
Arrested in 2018 and then released on bail, he was acquitted in January 2022 by a Kerala court; however, the High Court has admitted an appeal. “I resigned from the post for the sake of the Jalandhar diocese,” he says in a video message. The nunciature had asked to do so; now a new bishop can be appointed.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today accepted the resignation of Mgr Franco Mulakkal as Bishop of Jalandhar (India). He had been embroiled in a legal case, after a nun accused of sexual assault in September 2018.
A court in Kottayam (Kerala) acquitted the 59-year-old Mulakkal in January 2022, following a trial in which only 39 of the 84 people called to testify appeared.
Mulakkal was accused of “abusing his dominant position” and raping the former superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2016 when he visited the order’s convent in Kerala.
The case has caused great consternation among Indian Catholics after it came to light in September 2018, when five nuns staged a protest, demanding justice for their fellow religious sister.
Since the beginning, the prelate has always maintained that the accusations against him were unfounded and defamatory, and slammed the nun for trying to discredit him out of revenge after he removed her from the leadership of the congregation.
Mulakkal served as auxiliary bishop of Delhi from 2009 to 2013 before he was appointed Bishop of Jalandhar (Punjab). He spent three weeks in jail after his arrest in 2018 before he was released on bail.
At the time, the Holy See accepted his request to be relieved of his duties as bishop until the matter was clarified, while an administrator was put in charge of the diocese.
Last February, Mulakkal met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. In a video message released today on the affair, he says that he informed the pontiff during their meeting of his decision to resign from office.
“I resigned from the post for the sake of the Jalandhar diocese and the appointment of a new bishop,” he said.
Expressing gratitude to those who prayed and stood by him, he also offered his tears to bring about the Church’s reform.
In a statement, the Apostolic Nunciature in India notes that the High Court admitted an appeal against his acquittal. it also explained that Mulakkal's resignation was requested as 'pro bono Ecclesiae', especially for the good of the diocese which needs a new bishop.