Women activists have requested the Vatican to advice Pope Francis to remove a bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, accused of sexually assaulting a nun, in order to ensure that an impartial enquiry is carried out into the matter, PTI news agency reported.
A nun, in a complaint to the Kottayam district police chief last month, alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal raped her and had unnatural sex with her multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.
Mulakkal has claimed that he is innocent and that the truth will come out in the police investigation.
Leaders of various national women’s organisations and human rights activists submitted a memorandum to Italian archbishop and Vatican diplomat to India Rev Giambattista Diquattro.
Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, said “We have only one demand that the Bishop be relieved of all pastoral duties. Till he holds a position of power we know there wouldn’t be an impartial probe into the matter.”
“We very strongly feel that the church should be looking into the matter. Religious places tend to brush such incidents under the carpet but this should not be done,” said Shabnam Hashmi, one of the authors of the letter.
Other activists who co-authored the letter included Gargi Chakravartty, Padmini Kumar, Virginia Saldanha and Aruna Gnanadason.
The activists asked Diquattro to advise Pope Francis to relieve the bishop of pastoral responsibilities till the matter is over.
The activists said it is unfortunate that a situation is created in such a way that lot of questions are raised on the “character” of the complainant nun.
“We are of the opinion that this will create huge pressure and mental agony to the nun,” the activists said.
The nun had complained to the National Commission for Women (NCW) that the Kerala Police was “not working” in the case as the accused was a “highly linked” person.
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said the commission would extend all possible help to the nun in her fight.