Kottayam/ Kochi: Bishop Franco Mulakkal, facing a probe after a nun accused him of rape, has handed over administrative responsibility of the Jalandhar diocese to a senior priest while a group of Catholic priests on Saturday extended support to the protest by various Catholic reformation organisations seeking justice for the nun. In a circular addressed to priests, nuns and brothers of the diocese, the Bishop said, "In my absence Msgr Mathew Kokkandam will administer the Diocese as in the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese".
He also requested them to continue to pray for him and for the alleged victim and her supporters who have come out against him "so that divine intervention may bring about change of heart and the truth of the matter may be revealed." The bishop claimed that there were "several contradictions" in the evidence collected against him by the police probing the case.
"I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation," he said in the circular, a copy of which was made available to the media here. The circular was issued on September 13, a day after the Kerala Police had asked him to appear before the investigating team on September 19.
The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Vijay Sakhare, Inspector General (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam District Superintendent of Police Harisankar and Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mullakal. People who are staging protest in Kochi seeking justice for the nun welcomed the development.
"We are happy about his decision. But he still wields wide authority and power (over the diocese). We will continue our agitation till our fellow sister gets justice," said one of the five nuns staging the protest in Kochi. As the protest by various Catholic reformation organisations seeking the arrest of Bishop Mulakkal entered the eighth day on Saturday, a group of Catholic priests visited them, defying the stand taken by a powerful Bishop body, and vowed their support for the agitation seeking justice in the case.