- The bishop had written to Pope Francis, seeking permission to step down
- Need to spend more time to fight my case, he said
- Was accused of rape by a nun in Kerala
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by a nun in Kerala, has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by the Vatican.
"The Holy Father has received the request of Rt. Rev. Bishop Franco Mulakkal to be temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities in the Diocese of Jullundur," the Catholic Bishop Conference of India said in a statement.
"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, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Jullundur sede plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis," the statement added.
Franco Mulakkal had written to Pope Francis requesting for permission to step down temporarily as the bishop or head of the Diocese of Jalandhar, saying he needs to spend more time to fight his case.
In a letter dated September 16, he said he may have travel to Kerala several times and so he wants to hand over the responsibilities of the diocese temporarily. Franco Mulakkal had last week handed over administrative responsibility of the Jalandhar diocese to a junior priest in his absence ahead of his Kerala visit.
The nun in Kerala alleged that she was sexually abused by Franco Mulakkal 13 times between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam district.
Franco Mulakkal was yesterday interrogated by the Kerala police for several hours.
The police said they were trying to reach to a conclusion after solving the contradictions in the statements. The police had earlier said there were contradictions in the statements of the survivor, witnesses and the accused.
Franco Mulakkal has claimed allegations against him were a "cooked up story to wreak vengeance" for the actions taken by him on various complaints received against the nun.
Claiming innocence, the bishop has said the complaint was "nothing but a fictional story".
With inputs from PTI