Nun rape case: Church mag claims Bishop Franco was only arrested due to media pressure

The news bulletin of the Diocese of Jalandhar claimed that the bishop was arrested due to media pressure and the scenario created by the protesting nuns.
Nun rape case: Church mag claims Bishop Franco was only arrested due to media pressure
Nun rape case: Church mag claims Bishop Franco was only arrested due to media pressure
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After Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of Jalandhar, was arrested in the nun rape case, a Catholic Church owned magazine extended open support to him and alleged that his arrest was due to pressure from the media. Christward, the monthly news bulletin published by the Diocese of Jalandhar, describes the present situation as ‘The suffering church’.

“After two days of interrogation at Thripunithura by the police team, it became clear that they had no option but to arrest him due to the prevailing situation in Kerala: pressure from the media and the scenario created by some Sisters and their supporters at Vanchi Square in front of the High Court at Kochi,” says the magazine.

Bishop Franco was granted bail on October 15 by the Kerala High Court, which ordered him to be present before the investigating officer once in two weeks.

“Bishop Franco Mulakkal returned to Jalandhar after obtaining bail on October 17, 2018 and was welcomed by the community of faithful, comprising Priests, Religious Sisters and lay faithful at about 5.00 pm. This was followed by a thanksgiving Holy Mass at the Sacred Heart Church, Jalandhar City, for the blessings the Lord provided during the past about a month, away from the Diocese and under the police custody and judicial remand (sic),” it reads.

The bulletin also praises the welcome gathering outside the prison for the bishop after he got bail. “On the following day he was released from the Palai Sub-Jail. A large number of well-meaning Catholic faithful waited outside the jail to see him come out of the prison, with rosary and other prayers,” the bulletin said.

However, in his message, Agnelo Gracias, Apostolic Administrator, Jalandhar Diocese, says that the diocese can run even without a driver. “On the very next day of my coming here, I met the Episcopal Council of the Diocese. With them, I reviewed various facets of the diocese and I want to say that I was amazed to see how the structure of the diocese has been so well set up. Everything is in place like a well-oiled car which, once started, can run on its own steam, even without a driver! What amazed me even more was the amount of good work taking place in our diocese,” his message reads.

However, a group of priests sound unhappy over the new statements by the bulletin. “If Franco is proved guilty, Syro Malabar Church Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Kanjirappally Bishop Mar Mathew Arackal, Fr James Erthayil, Mar Andrews Thazath, all the bishops who went to visit him in jail, and Anil Couto and Cardinal Feloni will be held accountable as well. So now they all have to work hard to prove that Franco is innocent! Otherwise, all of them will have to answer,” said a priest belonging to the Jalandhar diocese.

Meanwhile, Save Our Sisters (SOS) plans to conduct a march to the Thiruvananthapuram secretariat at 11 am on November 14. “We want the government to take immediate steps to cancel the bail given to Bishop Franco Mulakkal and to conduct an enquiry into the death of Fr Kuriakose Kattuthara. We also demand the removal of Poonjar MLA PC George from his post. PC George and a group of others are continuing a large-scale campaign against the survivor nun to tarnish her image,” says SOS general convenor Fr Augustin Vattoly.

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