KOTTAYAM: Even as a rape complaint filed by a nun against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese has rocked the Syro-Malabar and Latin Catholic churches, the priests and laity of the Roman Catholic Church are planning to send a mass petition to the Apostolic Nuncio to India and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) seeking removal of Mulakkal from pastoral responsibilities. The petition is being circulated among the priests and laity for collecting signatures under the aegis of Indian Christian Women’s Movement.
The letter, a copy of which is with Express, will be sent to Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, the Apostolic Nuncio to India, and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the CBCI, having the subject of ‘the alleged abuse of a religious sister by the bishop of Jalandhar diocese’, requests the intervention of both the authorities in protecting the interest of the victim and take action against the accused.
The letter says, “In view of the mud-slinging the bishop and his priests on the one hand and the aggrieved sister and her family on the other and now that the case has gone to the courts, we would urge you to please advise Pope Francis to relieve the bishop concerned of his pastoral responsibilities, so the Church is seen to actually practice the ‘zero tolerance’ it professes to observe in abuse cases.”
The letter also stated “With the accused bishop continuing to remain in his position as Bishop of Jalandhar diocese, it will erode the faith of the people in the credibility of the Church to implement its policy of zero tolerance and act justly in abuse matters.”
The letter also raises some points about ensuring the safety of women and children in the Church as well as grooming responsible and good priests. “At its root, sexual abuse is ultimately not about sexuality or celibacy, but about the gross misuse of the disproportionate power assigned to clergy,” it said.
In an email communication sent by Virginia Saldanha of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement, to the laity, she called upon the women’s community to work to rid the Church of evil. She also expressed concern over the reports the nun was cooking up the rape story.
Bishop’s representative meets Behera
T’Puram: The representative of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal has met State Police Chief Loknath Behera and requested him to conduct an impartial inquiry into the rape allegation levelled against the bishop by a nun. Fr Peter met Behera and is learnt to have conveyed to the police head the allegation against the bishop was phoney. Behera told the representative to contact Kottayam SP who is heading the probe.