Franco Mulakkal: Pope accepts resignation of bishop accused of rape

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Franco Mulakkal
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Bishop Franco Mulakkal always denied wrongdoing

The Vatican has announced that it has accepted the resignation of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun between 2014 and 2016.

Franco Mulakkal, 54, was the bishop of Jalandhar in the state of Punjab.

Mulakkal, who had denied the allegations, was found not guilty last year by a trial court in Kerala state.

The Vatican’s diplomatic representative in India said that an appeal against Mulakkal’s acquittal had been admitted in the high court in Kerala.

On Thursday, Mulakkal confirmed his resignation and thanked his supporters for standing by him in difficult times.

Given the “still divisive situation”, Mulakkal’s resignation was requested “for the good of the Jalandhar diocese” and to make way for a new bishop, the Vatican’s diplomatic representative said in a statement, The Times of India reported.

It was not a disciplinary action against Mulakkal, he said.

The Joint Christian Council, a federation of Christian organisations, said it welcomed the decision.

The nun who accused Mulakkal of rape belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus, a congregation in Kerala that is part of the Jalandhar diocese.

She had alleged that the bishop raped her 13 times and the assaults happened when he visited the convent where she lived in the city of Kottayam, in Kerala.

She petitioned the Vatican and wrote an open letter to the Pope’s representative in the Indian capital of Delhi in 2018 – which she claimed was her fourth letter to them.

This led to unprecedented protests by nuns and activists who came out in support of the woman.

Several other nuns who protested against the bishop had accused the church in Kerala as well as Vatican officials of turning a blind eye towards the rape allegations.

Mulakkal was arrested in Kerala in 2018. The Vatican had temporarily relieved the bishop of his duties.

In 2022, after he was acquitted by the trial court, the nun’s lawyers had said they would challenge the verdict in the high court.

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