Months after a Kerala nun accused a bishop of raping her, she wrote a letter to the Vatican’s representative in India alleging that he was using “political and money power” to bury the case and sought his removal. The letter came even as protests continue to gain momentum over alleged police inaction and what critics say are attempts at sabotaging the probe.
Kerala Minister EP Jayarajan assured government’s support with the nun and “right decision at the right time” would be taken by it. “Police will book culprits with the support of evidence. Investigation is on the right path. No one should try to outrage modesty of a woman,” said the minister.
Jalandhar diocese’s Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is at the centre of the controversy, has denied the charges levelled by the nun, saying that a “conspiracy” has been hatched by a group of people who are against the church. A group of Catholic nuns has backed the nun and held a public protest to demand the immediate arrest of the bishop.
Here’s all you need to know about the case so far:
FIR registered against the bishop
A nun belonging to the Catholic congregation of Missionaries of Jesus in Jalandhar filed a police complaint against bishop Franco Mulakkal in June alleging that he raped and subjected her to unnatural sex 13 times since 2014 at a convent in Kuravilangad.
Accusing the bishop of sending lewd messages and obscene pictures over the phone, the nun said she had also informed Cardinal George Alancherry, the head of the Kochi-based Syro-Malabar Church about the alleged abuse. Alencherry has claimed that the nun had talked about the “torture” at the congregation, but did not mention sexual abuse. As the Church took no action, the nun approached the police.
After her allegations became public, others came forward saying the bishop, who hails from Kerala, had forced at least 18 inmates to quit the order. The family of the nun has maintained that despite a complaint to the Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto, nothing was done. An FIR was registered against the bishop on June 28 and a detailed 114-page statement was recorded of the nun and other inmates of the convent.
The bishop also filed a complaint against the nuns and their families alleging that they had threatened him.
Kerala cops question Bishop, no arrests made
The police questioned bishop Franco Mulakkal for nine hours on August 14 in connection with allegations of rape levelled against him and left without arresting him.
When asked why Mulakkal was not arrested, the team head, DSP K Subhash, said the senior priest had “cooperated” during questioning and that they would return to Bishop’s residence “if required”.
Catholic organisations take to streets, demand speedy probe
Five nuns from a convent in Kottayam, to which the victim belonged, took part in a demonstration on September 8 in which they alleged that the victim had been denied justice by the church, police and the government as no action has been initiated against the bishop.
“We have been knocking on the doors of the church and the government. There is nobody to help us in our cause,’’ said Sister Anupama, one of the nuns who participated in the protest.
The protest was called due to the fact that since the case was registered 75 days earlier, the police had taken 12 statements from the victim but only one from the accused bishop.
NCW demands action against MLA who makes derogatory comments against nun
Independent MLA PC George triggered a row after he claimed the victim was a commercial sex worker.
“Is there any doubt that the nun is a prostitute? Twelve times it was pleasure, the 13th time it became a rape? Where was she when it happened 12 times? Whom is she telling this to? Why did she not complain on the first time it happened?… Let the three sisters be examined. Let us see if they are holy,” George had said.
The NCW has demanded strict action against the leader.
Nun targeting me for ordering probe against her: Bishop
Bishop Franco Mulakkal refuted the charges on September 11, saying that some people were orchestrating propaganda against him.
“Protests in Kerala are pressure tactics on investigating agency. When Kerala police did not find anything wrong against me then some people started protests to put pressure on the police,” he said. “The nun is lying, made up the case against me because I had ordered action against her,” the bishop said.
In an official release, Missionaries of Jesus called the charges baseless and said the congregation would not support nuns who have raised a “false charge” against the bishop.
Nun writes a letter to the Vatican
The nun on September 11 wrote a letter to the Vatican representative in India seeking justice.
In a letter dated September 8, the nun alleged the bishop coveted nuns.
“Whichever sister Franco felt attracted to, he tried to put them in trap by force or taking advantage of their weakness,” the letter said. She also alleged that the bishop was using “political and money power” to bury the case and sought his removal.
Kerala HC asks status of investigation
The Kerala High Court asked the police to reveal the steps taken in the investigation so far. The court also sought to know what the government was doing to ensure the security of the victim and the nuns who were supporting her.
The hearing is scheduled to take place Thursday.