On the day the Kerala police issued a notice to the rape accused Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese, Franco Mulakkal, to appear before it on September 19, Franco issued a circular here delegating Monsignor Mathew Kokkandum to administer the activities of Diocese in his absence.
The circular from Bishop dated September 13, 2018, mentioned: “…as you have probably come to know from the media the investigation into the allegations raised against me as there are several contradictions in the evidences collected against me as per the report of the police and it is reported that I am likely to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala. In my absence Msgr. Mathew Kokkandam will administer the diocese as in the normal practice when I am away from the diocese”.
Father Mathew Kokkandam is currently head of St. Francis church in Amritsar district.
Church sources in the Doaba region said that such circulars are routinely issued by the Bishop when he goes out of the jurisdiction of his diocese for some days or weeks. “He has not resigned from his post nor has he made anyone the officiating Bishop. He has only appointed a senior member of the clergy to look after the activities of diocese in his absence,” the source said.
“This circular also establishes that Bishop is going to Kerala to join the investigation,” he said.
Bishop House PRO Father Peter did not respond to phone calls or messages sent to him.
The Bishop had personally received the Kerala Police summons on Friday evening. It was delivered to him by the Jalandhar Police Commissionerate on behalf of Kerala police.
Bishop Franco has to appear before Kerala police on September 19 for further investigations. He told The Indian Express earlier that he will go to Kerala if the police asked him to join the investigation there.
According to this circular Bishop had also appointed Father Joseph Thekkumkattil as head of Tanda Deanery located in Hoshiapur district and Father Subin Thekkedathu as Parochial Vicar, St. Mary’s Church Tanda.
He has also raised the annual travelling allowances of priests from Rs. 5000 from January 2019 and mess allowances to Rs. 6000/ month from this September.