Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese, who was acquitted in the rape case of a nun in Kerala announced his resignation. In a video message in Malayalam, he said that the Pope had accepted his resignation, a decision which was taken after a long process of consultation with his superiors. He expressed gratitude to everyone who had stood with him when he went through a turbulent period in his life.
Sources suggest that he was asked for his resignation. However, the Apostolic Nunciature of India-the diplomatic mission of Pope Francis in India, in their official statement stated that the resignation was requested by Franco Mulakkal. They also made it clear that it was not disciplinary action either. ‘The Apostolic Nunciature wishes to specify that the Holy See respects the verdict of the Additional District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, Kerala acquitting Bishop Mulakkal from the allegations concerning him, as well as the appeal against the acquittal which has been admitted by the Kerala High Court. Given the still divisive situation about the aforesaid matter in the Diocese of Jullundur, the resignation has been requested from Rev Mulakkal not as a disciplinary measure imposed upon him, but as pro bono Ecclesiae, especially for the good of the Diocese which needs a new Bishop’.
However, the priests who stood by the nun in the allegation of rape against Bishop Mulakkal maintain the view that he was given a graceful exit. “This case has had a very corrosive impact upon the credibility of the Church. This case has only caused the erosion of trust among the people especially, the young generation. The Vatican has taken this situation very seriously,” says a priest in Kerala on the condition of anonymity.
However, the official announcement also suggests that Bishop Mulakkal might not be given new powers. According to an announcement made by the Apostolic Nunciature of India, he has been given the status of ‘Bishop Emeritus of Jullundur’ which is a retirement position. According to sources, the retiring bishops are being given the status of Bishop Emeritus