Bishop arrested in Kerala on charges of raping nun: police

Catholic Church is facing sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia, Germany and other countries


Reuters September 22, 2018
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, is escorted by police outside a crime branch office on the outskirts of Kochi. PHOTO: REUTERS

KOCHI: A Roman Catholic bishop was arrested in Kerala on Friday on charges of raping a nun, police said, a day after the Vatican accepted the bishop’s request to be temporarily relieved of his duties.

There was no immediate comment from Bishop Franco Mulakkal or his lawyers - though he has denied the charges in interviews in the past.

Mulakkal, who heads the diocese of Jalandhar, wrote to the Vatican on Sunday asking to step down temporarily as protests and calls for his arrest grew. The Vatican accepted his request on Thursday.

“He is charged with rape,” said Kochi’s inspector general of police, Vijay Sakhare.

A Vatican spokesperson said he had no immediate comment on the matter.

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The arrest comes at a time when the state’s Christian community is reeling from a string of cases - including the arrests of five priests last month on allegations of sexual assault. Their church said it believed the priests were innocent.

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Outside India, the Catholic Church is facing sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia, Germany and other countries.

Pope Francis has summoned the heads of national Catholic bishops from around the world to the Vatican to discuss the protection of minors at an extraordinary meeting from February 21-24.

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Mulakkal, 54, was ordained as a priest in 1990 in the northern Indian Punjab state and was elevated as the bishop of the Diocese of Jalandhar five years ago.

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