Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandar diocese steps down
According to the statement issued by the church, Bishop Franco was asked to resign.
KOCHI: Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a nun, has stepped down from the pastoral care of Jalandhar diocese. Bishop Franco's resignation from te post was accepted by Pope Francis, the head of Catholic Church, said a statement by the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was acquitted by a trial court of the rape charges in January 2022, had been asked to step down following a divisive situation over the matter in the Diocese of Jalandhar. According to the statement issued by the church, Bishop Franco was asked to resign.
"However, it was not as a disciplinary measure imposed upon him but as a pro bono Ecclesiae, especially for the good of the diocese which needs a new bishop," said the statement issued by the Apostolic Nunciature.
In the statement the Nunciature specified that the Holy See respected the verdict of the Additional District and Sessions Court, Kottayam acquitting Bishop Mulakkal from the allegations concerning him as well as the appeal against the acquittal which has been admitted by the Kerala High Court.
His present status will be as Bishop Emeritus of Jalandhar. However, it doesn't imply canonical restrictions on his ministry, said the statement issued by the Nunciature.
Meanwhile, Bishop Franco expressed his happiness over the Holy See accepting his resignation, which according to him was tendered following multiple discussions with his superiors in the church.
"I thank everyone who stood by me during the trials and tribulations that I underwent," said Bishop Franco.
It was on June 29, 2018, that a rape complaint was filed against Bishop Franco Mulakkal by a nun. Five years after the complaint was filed, the Bishop, however, was acquitted by the additional sessions court in Kottayam on January 14, 2022.
The case had grabbed a lot of attention with the nuns alleging gross injustice. The nuns who spoke up in support of the victim were targeted by the church and after the verdict, they expressed the apprehension that those in power in the church will turn more aggressive against them.