CHANDIGARH: Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar Diocese on Saturday appointed father Mathew Kokkandum as administrator of the diocese in his absence, as he is facing a probe over allegations of rape by a nun in Kerala.
The 54-year-old bishop has not resigned yet, but in an official circular, stated that he has appointed Mathew Kokkandum as administrator of the Diocese in his absence.
He has also appointed Father Joseph Thekkumkattil as Dean of Tanda Deanery and Father Subin Thekkadathu as Parochial Vicar, St Mary's Church in Tanda, said sources.
Bishop Mulakkal wrote: "I am likely to be called for further clarifications by investigating officer in Kerala, appoint Rv, Fr Joseph Thekkumkattil and Rev Fr Subin Thekkedathu.''
It is learnt that the bishop took this step a night after the Jalandhar Police received a summons for the bishop in connection with an investigation in Kerala on September 19.
The bishop is accused of raping a nun thirteen times between 2014 and 2016.
The bishop will be questioned by the Kerala police investigative team on Wednesday, said sources. The circular came when there were also reports that he could have been asked to step down by the Vatican.
The Jalandhar church had claimed that it had conducted an internal investigation into the alleged rape case and declared that the bishop was innocent. It went on to discredit the nun, in support of the bishop, stating that the nun had conspired against him.
"The nun who has complained against the bishop has conspired in connivance with nine others, including five nuns, against the bishop," the church said in a statement and added that the nuns had been influenced by some others.
The bishop had denied all allegations, terming it a conspiracy.
The Kerala police has booked the bishop, and a team had come to carry out the investigation in Jalandhar and record the statements of the nuns.
The Punjab Christian Movement, led by its president Hamid Masih, had been demanding that the bishop step down on moral grounds.
Nuns in Kochi who have been demanding the bishop's arrest have welcomed the move but made it clear that their protests will continue.