Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 15: Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape and sexual abuse by a Kerala nun has decided to step aside amid uproar over alleged inaction by the Church.
"In my absence Mathew Kokkandam will administer the diocese as it is normal practice," said a circular.
Fr. Mulakkal has also appointed Father Joseph Thekkumkattil as Dean of Tanda Deanery and Father Subin Thekkadathu as Parochial Vicar, St Mary's Church, Tanda.
In a letter addressed to fathers, sisters, and brothers of the diocese on September 13, Fr. Mulakkal said:
"As you have come to know from the media thr investigation into the allegations raised against me, there are several contradictions in the evidences collected against me as per the report of the police. It is reported that I am to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala. I request you to continue to pray for me and the alleged victim and her supporters who have come out against me so that divine intervention may bring about change of heart and truth of the matter may be revealed."
The police team probing the alleged sexual abuse of the nun has summoned Fr. Mulakkal for interrogation on September 19.
The office of the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, on Wednesday expressed that Fr. Franco Mulakkal, the bishop of the diocese of Jalandhar, should step down and let an inquiry against him unfold.
The Archbishop of Bombay says that the reputation of the church, not just in Kerala but all over the country, is at stake and stepping down would be the right thing to do, and if the bishop isn't guilty, then he can very well get back to his position.
An official from the office of the Archbishop of Bombay said the Vatican could initiate an enquiry and take a decision on the matter.
In June, a Kerala nun had filed a case against the Jalandar bishop, accusing him of raping her 13 times.
Since then, the police has been investigating the case. However, the nun has also written to the Vatican alleging that the bishop is using his power and money to silence her and other nuns who, too, have come forward accusing the bishop of inappropriate bheaviour.