Pope obliges Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s request, temporarily relieves him of duties

Bishop Franco Mulakkal was accused of sexually assaulting a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016 and is being interrogated by Kerala police.
Pope obliges Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s request, temporarily relieves him of duties
Pope obliges Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s request, temporarily relieves him of duties
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Apostolic Nunciature (Pope’s Ambassador) to India has accepted the request of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese to relieve him of his religious duties temporarily. Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, to take over the duties of Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the Apostolic Nunciature in India said that it had received the request of Bishop Franco Mulakkal to be temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties in the Diocese of Jalandhar. It must be noted here that the church has not taken any action against Bishop Franco, and have not even suspended him. The decision to temporarily relieve him is also based on Bishop Franco’s request.

“Having considered all circumstances, the Holy Father has accepted this request of Bishop Mulakkal and has appointed the Rt. Rev. Agnelo Rufino Gracias, Titular Bishop of Molicunza and Auxiliary Bishop emeritus of Bombay, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Jullundur...,” said the statement.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has also issued a statement announcing the appointment of the new Bishop.

Originally from Colva, Goa, Bishop Agnelo Gracias was born in Mombasa, Kenya, Africa, on July 30, 1939. He finished his priestly studies in Parel and Goregaon and was ordained as a priest in 1962. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay in March 2001 and ordained bishop by Cardinal Ivan Dias in April 2001. 

Fr Franco Mulakkal is currently being questioned at the Thripunithura Crime Branch Police Station for the second time.

On Wednesday, the Jalandhar Bishop was interrogated for nearly seven hours since 11 in the morning. Malayalam media reported that he was asked around 104 questions before he was allowed to leave at around 6.30 pm. The interrogation was conducted by Kottayam SP Harisankar and DySP Vaikom K Subhash. The officers were tight-lipped about the interrogation and the SP had declined to comment on whether Franco admitted to the crime.

The police had issued a summons to the Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese on September 12 directing him to appear by September 19 in relation to the rape charges levelled against him by a nun. The nun had filed a complaint in June alleging that she was sexually assaulted by the bishop multiple times between 2014 and 2016 in the Kuravilangad convent in Kerala.

With inputs from Sandeep Vellaram

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