Pope obliges Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s request, temporarily relieves him of duties

Pope obliges Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s request, temporarily relieves him of duties

The interrogation of bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused by a Kerala nun of raping her, got under way for the third day at the hi-tech interrogation cell in the Crime Branch (CB) office at Tripunithura in Kochi on Friday. Last week, a day after the Kerala Police summoned the Bishop for questioning on September 19, he handed over the administrative responsibilities of the Jalandhar Diocese to another senior priest.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the Apostolic Nunciature in India said that it had received the request of Bishop Franco Mulakkal to be temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties in the Diocese of Jalandhar. The bishop has swiftly denied all the charges which were filed against him and reportedly said that it was a "conspiracy". The statement said that the nuns have been influenced by some people to take such a step.

Police have sought a legal opinion as to whether Mulakkal, whose anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court, can be arrested. On Wednesday, activists of All India Youth Federation, the youth wing of CPI, waved black flags as the bishop came out of the police station after questioning.

A protesting nun said they were all waiting for the news of the arrest of the bishop so a strong message goes out to those who abuse women.

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The officer refused to answer when asked whether the bishop would be arrested on Friday. "If he is able to do so fine, otherwise we would take the necessary action", said IG-Kochi range Vijay Sakhare.

Mulakkal has, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting he was "innocent".

Reportedly, this is the first time in the Catholic church's history in Kerala that nuns have come out in protest against the church authorities and the police, who have been allegedly trying to delay the process of investigation and the resultant arrest. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala.

At a news conference in Kottayam, he claimed that he had photographs and videos of the nun with the bishop on the days after the alleged incident in which she "looked happy".

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