Rape-accused bishop sees plot against church in nuns' protest

The nuns are being used to malign the church, asserts the bishop

Bishop Franco Mulakkal | File Bishop Franco Mulakkal | File

Roman Catholic bishop of Jalandhar diocese Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, said that he suspected an anti-church conspiracy behind the allegations against him.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Franco said people who are against the church have been using the nuns who have launched a protest in Kerala seeking his arrest.

"I feel there are people who are against the church, they're using these sisters. This is a conspiracy and several people are taking advantage of the situation, they are putting sisters at the forefront,” the bishop said.

Franco said the nuns have the right to protest. About the ongoing probe into the charges against him, Franco said the police questioned him for nine hours.

"They took her (the complainant nun) statement also. There were contradictions. The police are examining who is saying the truth," he said.

Criticism is mounting against the Church for not taking an action against the bishop while he is under investigation.  

On Tuesday, the victim nun petitioned the Vatican representative in India alleging that Franco was using “political and money power” to bury the case and sought his removal from the post.

In a letter to Giambattista Diquattro, Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio (a diplomatic mission), the nun said she has turned to the church authorities for justice. "Seeking your urgent intervention in this case as the representative of the Holy See in India," she said.

She alleged that by continuing in the position of Jalandhar diocese bishop, Franco Mulakkal and his close associates "are using the wealth of the diocese to divert" the course of the police investigation.

Her missive comes amid protests by a group of nuns and others against delay in taking action against the bishop, who has been accused of rape and unnatural sex with the complainant multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

The letter surfaced as the protest by various Catholic Reform organisations in Kochi seeking justice for the nun entered the fifth day on Wednesday.

Workers of various organisations continued to visit the protest venue extending their support.

The protesters, including five fellow nuns of the rape survivor, said they would continue their agitation till action was taken against the bishop.

They have alleged that top police officials were trying to sabotage the probe. With the police facing heat, a senior official on Monday said the bishop may be summoned to Kerala for interrogation. Sources said the police will serve a notice to the accused on Thursday asking him to be present before them for interrogation within a week. Top officers of the police will hold a crucial meeting in this regard on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a pro-church outfit Catholic Federation of India alleged "mystery" behind the nun's charges. Alleging a conspiracy to destroy the church in Kerala, it demanded a judicial probe into the whole episode.