Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was relieved of his administrative duties as head of Jalandhar diocese by Pope Francis last year. However he might still be interfering in the functioning of the diocese, alleged the protesting nuns in Kottayam on Sunday.
“Though Bishop Agnelo was now the apostolic administrator of the Jalandhar diocese, judging by the kind of letters (issues by diocese PRO and Missionaries of Jesus congregation head) they could not help but wonder if Bishop Franco still interfered in the functioning,” Sr Anupama, who led the protests against Bishop Franco told media persons on Sunday.
The statement by the nuns comes a day after a letter issued by the diocese PRO Peter Kavumpura (who is reportedly close to Bishop Franco) countered another e-mail sent by apostolic administrator Bishop Agnelo who revoked the nuns’ transfer order till the case was in court.
On Saturday, Bishop Agnelo had issued an email to the nuns promising them that they would not have to move out of the Kuruvilangad convent till the case was in court and that their transfer orders stand revoked until the truth emerges. However, countering this email, diocese PRO Peter Kavumpura issued another letter, just a few hours later, stating that the transfer orders of the nuns will stay and won’t be cancelled.
“Even though the congregation of Missionaries of Jesus is of diocesan right, the internal running is left to the General and the council. The Bishop of Jalandhar does not interfere unless the overall interests of the church demands such interference,” the letter by Father Kavumpura read.
Reacting to the clarification order, Sr Anupama made it clear that it was not acceptable to the nuns and that they would not be moving out of the Kuruvilangad convent.
In January this year, the Superior General of Missionaries of Jesus ordered four of the protesting nuns - Sr Anupama, Sr Josephine, Sr Alphy and Sr Ancitta to move to Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar and Kannur respectively. The transfer orders states that the nuns had to leave to these places where they had earlier served communities before shifting to the Kuruvilangad convent. The move was condemned as an attempt by the church to break the unity of the nuns. Later on, the fifth nun Sr Neena Rose was asked to personally appear before the authorities in Jalandhar, where Bishop Franco currently resides, in February. The move was another attempt to directly influence the key witnesses in the case by removing her from the jurisdiction of the Kerala police and bringing her into the control of the accused.
On Saturday, the nuns along with Save our Sisters forum who had organised the earlier protest at Vanchi square to get Bishop Franco arrested, protested against the transfer orders at Kottayam.
In September 2018, rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested by the Kerala police after a 14-day protest by the five nuns of the Kuruvilangad convent. The nuns currently stay with the rape survivor, in the convent in Kottayam.