Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a Kerala nun, has written to Pope Francis offering to “step aside temporarily” as the Bishop of Jalandhar diocese.
“The bishop has written a letter to Holy Father Pope Francis expressing his desire to step aside temporarily and requested to be relieved from the administration of the diocese,” Press Trust of India quoted a spokesperson of Jalandhar diocese as saying.
Bishop Mulakkal’s move came ahead of his appearance before the Special Investigation Team of Kerala Police on 19 September. UCAN news reports that earlier on Tuesday (18 September) the Kerala High Court agreed to hear an anticipatory bail plea, filed by the bishop ahead of tomorrow's appearance before the police. When filing the anticipatory bail plea the bishop reiterated that the complaint against him was false, concocted and meant to harass him.
A Kerala nun had accused the bishop of repeated sexual assault between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to the Jalandhar-diocese run convent at Kuruvilangad in Kottayam district.
The nun recently urged the Vatican to intervene in the matter and demanded Mulakkal's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese. She also questioned the "silence" of the Church, accusing it of "closing its eyes to the truth".
Mulakkal said the charges levelled by the nun were “baseless and concocted”, and claimed there were several contradictions in the evidence collected against him.
A Vatican spokesman offered no comment on the nun's allegations. The bishop handed over administrative responsibility of Jalandhar diocese to Mgr Mathew Kokkandam ahead of his Kerala visit.