Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal steps down despite acquittal in rape case, Vatican accepts resignation

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal steps down despite acquittal in rape case, Vatican accepts resignation

The bishop had faced allegations of rape made by a nun, but he was subsequently acquitted by a Kerala trial court.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, June 01, 2023, 05:21 PM IST
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File photo of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal leaves after a questioning by the SIT. PTI Photo |

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Franco Mulakkal from his role as the spiritual leader of the diocese of Jalandhar, India. The bishop had faced allegations of rape made by a nun, but he was subsequently acquitted by a Kerala trial court.

After Vatican accepting his resignation, Franco Mulakkal will now serve as Bishop Emeritus, Mathrubhumi reported.

Pope Francis has accepted my resignation: Franco Mulakkal

Sources indicate that the Vatican requested the resignation of Franco as his continued role as the Bishop was causing divisions within the church. However, in an official statement, the Apostolic Nunciature of India, representing Pope Francis in India, asserted that it was Mulakkal who requested the resignation. The mission clarified that his resignation was not a disciplinary action imposed on him, but rather a voluntary decision made for the well-being of the Diocese, which is in need of a new bishop.

Announcing resignation in a video message, Franco said, “The Holy Father Pope Francis has accepted my letter of resignation as Jalandhar Bishop, which I had written after detailed discussions with my superiors. I thank all those who stood by me and prayed for me as I went through a turbulent period over the last few years.”

Rape allegations against Franco Mulakkal

Franco Mulakkal faced charges in a sexual abuse case and was subsequently acquitted by the Kottayam district Additional Sessions Court. The Kottayam police had registered a case against Franco in 2018, leading to his arrest on September 21 of the same year. Consequently, he was removed from his position in the Jalandhar Diocese.

In June 2018, a 43-year-old nun, affiliated with the Missionaries of Jesus congregation, filed a complaint with the police, accusing Franco of sexually abusing her during his visits to Kerala between 2014 and 2016.

The state has lodged an appeal in the high court against the acquittal. However, Franco has raised objections to the court's consideration of the appeal.

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