Franco Mulakkal resigns as Jalandhar bishop

Mulakkal had met Pope Francis on February 8

Bishop Franco Mulakkal | File Franco Mulakkal | File

Franco Mulakkal, who was temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by Pope Francis in 2018 following allegations of rape by a nun, has resigned from the Jalandhar bishop's post, a church source said on Thursday.

The resignation of Mulakkal, who was acquitted by a local court in Kerala last year in the rape case, was requested by the Vatican not as a disciplinary measure imposed upon him, but for the good of the Jalandhar diocese, which needs a new bishop, the source told PTI.

His resignation will pave the way for the appointment of a new bishop to the diocese, the source said. In a video, the bishop confirmed that the Holy See accepted his resignation today.

The present status of Franco Mulakkal is bishop emeritus of Jalandhar, which does not imply canonical restrictions on his ministry, the source said.

Mulakkal had met the Pope on February 8 this year, and it was his first meeting with the pontiff after being acquitted by the additional district and sessions court I, Kottayam in the rape case. In September 2018, the bishop was temporarily relieved of his responsibilities of the diocese by Pope Francis after Mulakkal was questioned by the Kerala police over rape charges levelled by a nun.

Despite being acquitted by the local court in the sensational case, Mulakkal was not given any new responsibilities in the church.

The Vatican had earlier accepted the court's decision, acquitting him of rape charges.

The nun, who says she was raped by the bishop, has moved the Kerala High Court against the trial court verdict in the case. She had accused Mulakkal of raping her multiple times during his visit to a convent in Kottayam in Kerala between 2014 and 2016, when he was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese in Punjab.

The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the Jalandhar Diocese.

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