An appeal to Pope Francis to remove Bishop of Jalandhar, Punjab, India, Franco Mulakkal

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Bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal has been accused by a nun from Kerala of raping her on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2016. He has also been accused by at least three other nuns who claim that he took advantage of his position within the diocese and approached them with malicious intentions.

The nun has said the rape took place during the bishop’s May 2014 visit to the convent in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed on 29 June 2018, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her over a dozen times over two years.

Bishop Mulakkal, 54, heads a Roman Catholic diocese in the northern India state of Punjab. He oversees the alleged victim’s Missionaries of Jesus religious congregation. The victim’s congregation is based in Jalandhar but has a convent in the Diocese of Palai, in Kerala State.

The police, in a statement based on initial investigation and available evidence, said it was found the Bishop allegedly committed an unnatural act and raped the nun against her will. He confined the nun to a guest room in St Francis Mission Home at Kuravilangad in Kottayam, the statement had alleged.

Citing laxity in the probe the victim’s family members and five of her colleagues from the convent at Kuravilangadu in Kottayam took to the streets and joined the indefinite hunger strike organised by the Joint Christian Council (JCC) here on Saturday, 08 September 2018. According to the nuns, positions of influence and money power have insulated the Jalandhar Bishop from being arrested. “As many as 74 days have passed since the complaint was lodged against Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The police had recorded her statements several times. But the accused Bishop was interrogated only once,” they said.

Though everyone is equal before the law, when it comes to accused religious leaders, this principle is often subverted in India. They enjoy special consideration, protection and more often, the victims are labelled as offenders in such cases,” said George Joseph, vice-president, JCC.

Holding placards, the agitators demanded the arrest of Mulakkal. The nuns alleged attempts are being made from various quarters to sabotage the investigation. “We are fighting for our sister. She has been denied justice by the Church, government and police. We are ready to go to any extent to see that she gets justice,” said a nun at the gathering.

Through this petition, we request Pope Francis to immediately intervene and remove Bishop Franco Mulakkal from any church positions and order him to face the allegations.

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