Kerala Bishop Accused Of Raping Nun Asks Pope Permission To Step Down To Fight Legal Case

| September 17 , 2018 , 14:34 IST

Kerala Bishop Franco Mulakkal who is accused of raping a nun multiple times in the span of 2 years has written to Pope Francis requesting permission to step down temporarily as the head of the Diocese of Jalandhar so as to spend more time to fight his case, media reported on Monday.

The Bishop, in the letter dated September 16, said that he may have to travel to Kerala several times and so he wanted to hand over the responsibility of the diocese temporarily and named his successor as senior priest Mathew Kokkandam.

The Diocese of Jalandhar confirmed that Bishop Mulakkal had sought more time to fight his case.

"Bishop Mulakkal requires to spend more time to fight his case, travel to Kerala & expressed willingness to absolve himself from responsibilities of the diocese temporarily & has handed over a letter to representative of the Pope, seeking permission for the same," the Diocese of Jalandhar said to ANI.

"In my absence Mathew Kokkandam will administer the diocese as in the normal practice when I am away," Bishop Mulakkal said.

Chief of the National Commission for Women Rekha Sharma hailed Bishop Mulakkal's stepping down as the 'first win' in the case.

"I have heard some reports that the accused bishop has stepped down and this shows we are moving in the right direction. We have won for the first time in this long battle against that bishop. The High Court has given some more time to the police. Let us see what they come up with. After that, if things are not proper, we will again intervene," she said.

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Several nuns have rallied around the nun who accused the Bishop of sexually assaulting her repeatedly. She further accused that he used his political power and money from his position as Bishop to influence the case and investigations.

The victim nun had also written a letter to the Vatican dated September 8, of which 21 copies have been sent to others, in which she accuses the Bishop of rape and having unnatural sex with her multiple times between 2014 and 2016 and that she has turned to the Church authorities for justice.