A nun who has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese of raping her has petitioned the Vatican representative in India, alleging that the clergyman was using “political and money power” to bury the case, and sought his removal from the post.
In a letter to Giambattista Diquattro, Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (a diplomatic mission), the nun said she had turned to the church authorities for justice.
She alleged that the bishop and his close associates “are using the wealth of the diocese to divert” the course of the police investigation.
Her missive comes amid protests by a group of nuns and others against the delay in taking action against the bishop, who has been accused of rape and unnatural sex with the complainant multiple times between 2014 and 2016.
“They are arranging people to attack us, and bishop Franco is using his political power and money to get higher authorities of the investigation and the government to bury legal proceedings that I have filed against him,” the nun charged.
In the September 8 letter, a copy of which is available with the media, she alleged that the bishop and his associates were luring people to take a stand supportive of them by assuring them properties and other forms of wealth. Noting that she had filed the complaint against the bishop two months ago, the nun claimed even though the Special Investigation Team probing the charge was convinced of the proof, they were not able to arrest him because of his political and economic power. Copies of the letter were sent to 21 others, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) President Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Delhi Metropolitan Archbishop, Anil Couto.
“Being a religious sister who is denied justice from the congregation authority and from the Church authority of Latin and Syro Malabar Churches, once again I implore your mercy on my situation.
“I beg the Church authorities to kindly make a speedy enquiry about this case and remove Bishop Franco from his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of the diocese,” the nun said.
The letter surfaced as the protest by various Catholic reform organisations in Kochi seeking justice for the nun entered the fourth day on Tuesday.
Workers of various organisations continued to visit the protest venue extending their support.
The protesters, including five fellow nuns of the rape survivor, said they would continue their agitation till action was taken against the bishop.
They have alleged that top police officials were trying to sabotage the probe.
With the police facing heat, a senior official on Monday said the bishop may be summoned to Kerala for interrogation.
Meanwhile, a pro-church outfit Catholic Federation of India alleged there was “mystery” behind the nun’s charges.
Alleging a conspiracy to destroy the Church in Kerala, it demanded a judicial probe into the whole episode.