Denying that it wanted a Bishop accused in the rape of a nun to step down, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) on Sunday said that law should take its course in the matter.
"(Our) silence should in no way be construed as siding with either of the two parties. We have learnt of certain statements attributed to our President, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, that (accused) Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese should step down," CBCI Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas said in a statement in Thiruvananthapuram.
"We wish to clarify that he has made no such statement and wishes to disassociate himself from any such statement. Bombay Archdiocese spokesman's comments are in his personal capacity and have to be taken as such.
"We reiterate what we said earlier: The CBCI has no jurisdiction over individual Bishops. Besides, a police probe is on. One party has approached the Kerala High Court... Church authorities will take a decision once police file a definitive report after investigations," the statement added.
He said they were expressing their "distress" regarding developments surrounding accusations against Mulakkal.
The CBCI statement comes after Kerala Police asked accused Bishop Mulakkal to appear before a probe team on September 19.
Mulakkal stepped down as Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese on September 15, handing over temporary charge of the diocese to Father Mathew Kokkandam.
A Kerala nun had accused Mulakkal of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016. Five other nuns of the congregation have supported her claim and along with a section of the laity, are holding a protest at Kochi, which continued for the ninth day on Sunday.
An FIR was registered against the Bishop, with the nun and other convent inmates giving detailed statements running into 114 pages.
Mulakkal has denied wrongdoing and termed it a "conspiracy" against him.