CBCI didn’t ask Jalandhar bishop to step down.
New Delhi : The Catholic Bishops” Conference of India (CBCI) on Saturday clarified that its president Cardinal Oswald Gracias has not issued any statement asking Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal to step down in view of the controversy over alleged rape of a nun.
In a related development, Bishop Franco Mulakkal has stepped down, giving administrative responsibility of the Jalandhar diocese to senior priest Father Mathew Kokkandam “as in the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese.” His circular dated September 13 came a day after Kerala Police served him notice to appear before its investigators on September 19.
“We wish to clarify that he (Gracias) has made no such statement and wishes to disassociate himself from any such statement. The comments of the spokesperson of the Bombay Archdiocese are his personal comments and to be taken as such,” CBCI secretary general Theodore Mascarenhas said in a statement.
He also clarified that the CBCI is distressed over the developments connected with the
accusations against the Jalandhar Bishop. On why the CBCI is silent on the issue, he reiterated that “the CBCI has no jurisdiction in the issue of individual Bishops.”
The CBCI secretary general went on to elaborate that “the law should take its course and once the police file their definitive report after investigations, the competent Church authorities will definitely make necessary decisions.” “Silence should in no way be construed as siding with either of the two parties,” he added.
A circular was issued on September 13, a day after the Kerala Police had asked him to appear before the investigating team on September 19. The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Sakhare, Inspector General (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam District Superintendent of Police Harisankar and Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mullakal. In the circular, the bishop said there were “several contradictions” in the evidences collected against him by the police probing the case. “I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation,” he said in it. A copy of the circular was made available to the media here.
The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the bishop’s removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was “closing its eyes to the truth” when she had mustered courage to make public her suffering.
She alleged that Bishop Mulakkal was using “political and money power” to “bury” the case against him. The nun had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016. The bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless and concocted”, insisting she levelled those as the catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.