The 2021 calendar issued by the Trichur (Thrissur) Archdiocese under Syro Malabar Church, has come under criticism for printing photo of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal in it. The photo of the Franco Mulakkal who is accused of raping a Kerala nun, is printed in the March month's page in the calendar. Protesting against this, a group of believers under the Catholic Church in Kollam burned the calendars in front of the Kollam Bishop House on Sunday.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, is accused of raping a 44-year-old Kerala nun of a Missionaries of Jesus convent in the state, multiple times between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested in September in 2018, but is now out on bail. The controversial calendar was being issued to houses under Trichur Archdiocese since the past many days.
According to protesters, every year the church issues calendars to houses of believers for a nominal charge. However, since the last two years, photo of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was being printed in March monthâ€™s page. â€śIn the past years also people had raised objections against this and had even burned calendars. But this year also it has been repeated,â€ť said Riju Kanjookaran, convenor of Save Our Sister, the group which backed the protest of five Kerala nuns against Franco Mulakkal.
In the calendar, the photo of Franco Mulakkal is printed in one of the columns in the March page, mentioning his birthdate.
According to protesters, minor protests had been erupting across many districts in Kerala since the past many days against this. On Saturday, similar protests were held in Thrissur district also, added Riju.
Protest in Kottayam
On Sunday, a group of believers under the Latin Catholic Church in Kollam burned the calendars in protest in front of the Bishop House. In the visuals of the incident shared in social media, police officials could also be seen in front of the Bishop House in Kollam.
â€śBy printing the photo of Franco Mulakkal in the calendar, Thrissur Archdiocese has declared the accused in the case to be a saint. This is like challenging the women in the society,â€ť said one of the protests after burning the calendar.
He also urged that the sole reason why believers are not coming forward to question is because they fear the threat of the church denying pastoral services to such people. â€śThey refuse services like weddings, funerals etc if voice is raised. But we will keep protesting against these things hoping more people will voice out,â€ť said the protest.
Watch video of the protest
The trial in the rape case is ongoing at a court in Kottayam district. Recently, in October the Kerala High Court rejected the accused Bishopâ€™s plea to adjourn trial in the case due to COVID-19 pandemic. This was rejected by the court as prosecution argued that it to be a delay tactic.