A bishop accused by a nun of repeatedly raping her over two years has been summoned for questioning by police in India. It comes as several nuns continue to protest outside the High Court to demand justice for the sister.
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Amid claims that authorities are failing to take action against the bishop, police have summoned Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Jalandhar diocese in the northern Punjab state, for questioning on September 19.
A 43-year-old nun from the Missionaries of Jesus accused the bishop of raping her up to 13 times for two years from May 2014. Police said they will decide after questioning Mulakkal whether to arrest him in connection with the allegations, which were first made by the nun on June 27.
Mulakkal escaped being charged on August 10 – even though police issued a statement to the High Court apparently confirming the bishop had raped the nun. He was then questioned on August 13 but, police claim they only realized “contradictions” in his statements after that.
“Now we have decided to clear the contradictions in the bishop’s statements,” investigating officer Subhash said.
Mullakal for his part denounced the accusations, saying the nun made the claims in retaliation for him disciplining her.
Meanwhile, five nuns have attracted public support for their protest near the High Court in Kochi, Kerala, against the long delay in taking action against the alleged rapist.
Supporters include a string of local celebreties, such as filmmakers and actors Major Ravi, Aashiq Abu and Shahabas Aman, who met the protesters, as well as Joy Mathew who led a march in solidarity with the sisters in Kozhikode.
The Vatican has refused to comment on the case, but the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) denounced the nuns’ protest, saying it was aimed at tarnishing the Church as an institution.
As her mission accused her of “crucifying an innocent man,” the nun wrote a letter to the Vatican representative in India on September 8.
In a seven-page letter to Giambattista Diquattro, the nun claimed she was being ostracized in her Kuruvilanga convent since making the allegations to the point where she was prevented from attending Mass.
The reason authorities have been unable to arrest the bishop is his “political and economic power,” the letter reads, while adding that the Church’s “silence” is “humiliating” her.