Ker­ala nun rape case: Bishop Franco stops short of re­sign­ing, hands over charge to an­other priest

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - HARPREET BAJWA

AMID calls for his res­ig­na­tion, Bishop Franco Mu­lakkal who is ac­cused of rap­ing a nun mul­ti­ple times in Ker­ala, has handed over his ad­min­is­tra­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity of Ja­land­har dio­cese to an­other priest.

“In my absence Msgr Mathew Kokkan­dam will ad­min­is­ter the Dio­cese as in the nor­mal prac­tice when I am away from the Dio- cese,” Bishop Mu­lakkal said in a cir­cu­lar.

The 54-year-old bishop will have to ap­pear be­fore the Ker­ala po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing team on Septem­ber 19.

The cir­cu­lar comes on a day when there have been re­ports that he could be asked to step down by the Vat­i­can.

This also comes a day af­ter a Ja­land­har church claimed it had con­ducted an in­ter­nal in­ves­tiga- tion in the al­leged rape case and found the bishop to be in­no­cent. It went on to dis­credit the nun and sup­port the bishop as it stated that the nun had con­spired against him.

Mean­while, the nun has al­leged that the bishop was us­ing “po­lit­i­cal and money power” to “bury” the case against him.

The bishop has de­nied all al­le­ga­tions against him terming it a con­spir­acy.

THE ag­i­ta­tion launched by five nuns de­mand­ing the ar­rest of Ja­land­har Bishop Franco Mu­lakkal gained mo­men­tum on Satur­day as a groups of priests from the Syro Mal­abar Church’s Er­naku­lam Anga­maly Arch­dio­cese ar­rived at the protest venue pledg­ing al­le­giance to the ag­i­ta­tion. On the eighth day of the protest, eight priests led by the for­mer spokesper­son of the Syro-Mal­abar Church Fr Paul The­lakkat ar­rived at Vanchi Square, the protest venue near High Court Junc­tion.

Later, priests from the Malankara Mar Thoma Syr­ian Church also joined the protest, in­di­cat­ing the grow­ing sup­port to the nuns’ ag­i­ta­tion.

Though the Save Our Sis­ters Ac­tion Coun­cil had in­formed that priests and nuns from var­i­ous con­gre­ga­tions will ar­rive at the protest venue on Satur­day, the or­gan­is­ers were not sure about the sup­port from within the church. The priests who ar­rived in­cluded Fr Jose Parekat­til, Fr Joicy Kaithakoot­til, Fr Jimmu Kakkat­tuchira, Fr Benny Mara­param­bil, Fr Kurian Kurisinkal, Fr Paul Chit­ti­la­pally, Fr Tony Kal­lookaran, Fr Rajan Pun­nakikal and Fr Che­rian Vargh­ese.

Sr Teena Jose and Sr Emilda were among the nuns who pledged sup­port to the protest. The priests who ad­dressed the protesters said the ag­i­ta­tion launched by the nuns was not against the church, but for jus­tice. The priests also par­tic­i­pated in the stand­ing protest at High Court Junc­tion.

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