New Delhi, Sept 15: 54-year-old Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun based in Kerala's Kottayam, has stepped down as the Jalandhar Bishop. The announcement came shortly after Vatican inquired into the matter, hinting possible intervention in the days to come.
Mulakkal is accused of raping a 44-year-old nun, associated with the Catholic Convent in Kottayam, 12 times between 2014 to 2016. She broke her silence three months ago and registered a case against the Bishop on June 27.
The accused priest, however, has refuted the charge, claiming that he is being targeted through a "well-hatched conspiracy". Blaming the "anti-Church forces" for the allegations against him, Mulakkal said the woman is being used as a pawn by those who want to defame the Church.
"All these forces, who are at loggerheads with the Church, have joined hands to take me down. But I hope justice will prevail," he said, while speaking to reporters earlier in the week.
Vatican to intervene, reports news agency ANI:
#Kerala Nun rape case against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been brought to the notice of the Vatican. The church representative from India is in Vatican to discuss the issue & is expecting intervention in the coming days: Sources pic.twitter.com/fadaY3K8yY
— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2018
Mulakkal, on June 22, had submitted a counter-complaint against the nun, accusing her of defaming him for transferring her on administrative ground.
Meanwhile, protests are underway in several parts of Kerala, including Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, seeking police action against Mulakkal at the earliest.
The investigators have so far refrained from arresting Mulakkal, which sections of the Malayalam media have attributed to his "influence in Kerala politics".
Mulakkal, however, claimed that he is cooperating with the police at all stages of the investigation. "They came here (in Jalandhar) last month (on August 14) and interrogated me throughout the night. I answered all their questions and said I would always be available for further questioning," he said.