Spokesman of the Archdiocese of Bombay, India, Fr Nigel Barrett, has advised Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, to step down from his post pending an inquiry into the case of sexual harassment involving a nun.
The Roman Catholic Bishop is accused of repeatedly raping the nun in Kerala over two years. The 46-year-old nun alleged that she was sexually assaulted 13 times between 2014 and 2016. She has written to the Vatican, urging that action be taken against the offender.
The Bishop was summoned following days of protests by a collective of nuns, women’s groups and activists.
The Bishop has been asked to appear before the police on September 19, Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhare said.
“There are a lot of contradictions in the case. This is an old case based primarily on oral evidence. We have verified a lot of contradictions. It’s our duty to protect the victim and witnesses, ” Sakhare said.
However, the Bishop has refuted the allegations and accused ‘anti-church elements’ of falsely implicating him.
Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, and an advisor to the Pope, has said he will try to address the matter to Pope Francis. Cardinal Gracias is currently touring the Vatican.
Fr Nigel felt it would be best that Bishop Franco steps down pending an impartial enquiry. If he is determined to be not guilty, he can get back to his position.