One of the people who has been vociferously speaking against Bishop Franco Mulakkal and has also given a statement to the police against him in the rape case of a nun was found dead in St. Mary's Church in Dasuya in Jalandhar. Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who was 62 years old, was found dead on Monday morning. The exact cause of his death is not known yet. Father Kuriakose’s family and other witnesses in the case suspect a conspiracy in his death.
Father Peter, of the Jalandhar diocese, told news media that a few nuns had knocked on Father Kuriakose's door on Monday morning and when he didn't answer, they returned with another pastor from the parish. When they opened the door, they found Father Kuriakose lying on the floor. They rushed him to a government hospital where he was declared dead, Father Peter said.
Father Kuriakose had given a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal to the Kerala police in the rape case of a nun from Missionaries of Jesus. His brother, Jose Kattuthara, told Mathrubhumi news that he was suspicious about his brother’s death, and alleged that he had been killed for giving a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
Earlier, Father Kuriakose has alleged that he was under severe pressure by church officials for his support of the nun who has accused the bishop of rape. In an interview to Mathrubhumi, Fr Kuriakose had said, “The sisters had approached me complaining about Bishop Franco. They did not approach the Kerala police fearing the bishop. In fact, I fear what will happen to me for speaking out against him."
Father Kuriakose, who was a vocational teacher at the Jalandhar diocese, had also taught the survivor nun and the other nuns who protested for justice. SP Harishankar, who is investigating the rape case, confirmed to TNM that Father Kuriakose was a prosecution witness against Bishop Franco in the case.
Speaking to TNM, Sister Anupama, who had led the protests against Bishop Franco said, “We are very shocked to hear this news. Father Kuriakose has taught me and he was part of our parish as well. He was a crucial witness in our case as he had given statements against Bishop Franco to the police. I haven’t been in touch with him but I had heard from other priests that he had been facing a lot of pressure of late, with many in the church pointing fingers at him. We feel the circumstances of his death are suspicious and may affect our case against Bishop Franco.”
Father Kuriakose had supported the Missionaries of Jesus nun who has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape. Bishop Franco Mulakkal was granted conditional bail in the case on October 15 in the nun rape case. The Kerala High Court had at the time of granting his bail ordered the bishop to be present before the investigating officer once in two weeks. The bishop has also been directed to surrender his passport to the court and he has been forbidden from entering Kerala. He had received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Jalandhar on October 17, with supporters showering him with rose petals and garlanding him.