Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who heads the Roman Catholic community in Jalandhar, is facing arrest as the Kerala police have confirmed there is evidence against him in the rape of a nun. Franco Mulakkal, who hails from Kerala, will be the first-ever bishop to be arrested in India if the proceedings against him go ahead.
Who is this bishop who has brought added infamy to the church, which has been reeling from sex abuse allegations for quite some time? Has the church tried to suppress allegations against a member of its senior hierarchy? Why are even nuns in the church subjected to sexual abuse? And, what are the accusations made by the Kerala nun?
The arrest of Bishop Franco looms large as the nun has made a submission in front of a magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC. She has said she was raped by the Bishop 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The nun also said she was subjected to unnatural sex multiple times. The crime took place when the bishop travelled to Kerala on official purpose but dubiously stayed at a convent where the nun lived.
What are the latest updates?
The Kerala police have confirmed there is prima facie evidence against the bishop. A police team from Kerala is travelling to Jalandhar to interrogate the bishop. The police have said the nun's statement under Section 164 is aligned with her original complaint with the police. A doctor who examined the nun has confirmed that she had been raped.
Local media in Kerala reported that the Kerala police have sought the assistance of Punjab police. The police have issued an airport alert to prevent him fleeing the country.
Who is Bishop Franco Mulakkal?
Bishop Franco is a high-ranking clergyman from the Syro-Malabar church in Kerala, an independent Catholic church that is affiliated to the Church in Rome. He was born in Kerala in 1964 and was ordained priest in 1990. Franco was made an Auxiliary Bishop in 2009 and he served in Delhi, according to Catholic Hierarchy website. Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2013 and was moved to Jalandhar. Bishop Franco has a PhD in theology and an MA degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
What are the charges against Franco Mulakkal?
- The nun from Kerala, who is also from the Syro-Malabar denomination, says the bishop raped her at her convent in 2014. The sexual violation by the high priest continued over the next two years.
- As the complaint against the Franco merged, the bishop allegedly tried to suppress it and persuaded other nuns to file false complaint against the nun.
- The relatives of two other nuns from the convent have said the bishop threatened them with ex-communication. The raped nun and others have said the bishop used to send indecent chat messages to them at night.
- A priest from the community also said that several nuns in the church had raised allegations of sexual abuse against the bishop.
- As the abuse saga unfolded the church leadership was pushed on the defensive. The nun and her family revelled that a complaint had been given to the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala last year but no action was taken against the bishop.
However, bishop Franco has said all allegations are false and that the nun was wreaking vengeance on him after he ordered a probe into her alleged misdeeds.