Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Franco Mulakkal, the controversial bishop of Jalandhar, accused of raping a nun.
“Today, 1 June 2023, the Holy Father Pope Francis has accepted the resignation submitted by the Rt Rev Franco Mulakkal as Bishop of Jullundur,” the Apostolic Nunciature in India said, in a statement.
Usually, Catholic bishops hand in their resignation when they turn 75.
The 59-year-old bishop’s resignation was requested by the Vatican for the “good of the Jalandhar diocese, which needs a new bishop”.
While Mulakkal will now serve as Bishop Emeritus of Jalandhar, he has not been defrocked or stopped from offering sacraments.
In a video, the bishop thanked those who stood with him during his difficult time.
On June 29, 2018, a Kerala nun filed a case against Mulakkal, accusing him of raping her multiple times during his visit to her convent in Kottayam between 2014 and 2016. Mulakkal was arrested and remanded to judicial custody. He was also temporarily relieved of his responsibilities in the diocese by Pope Francis.
The case grabbed a lot of attention across India, with nuns who supported the victim alleging gross injustice. Protests across Kerala included nuns, reformers within the church, priests and laity.
In January 2022, the Additional District and Sessions Court in Kottayam, Kerala acquitted Mulakkal of sexual assault charges. Despite the verdict, he was not given any new responsibilities in the church.
The nun, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab has filed a case in the Kerala High Court against his acquittal.
(Picture Courtesy: ANI)