MUMBAI, India – A bishop accused of raping a nun says “anti-Church elements” are behind what he calls the false allegations against him.
“The nun is lying, made up the case against me because I had ordered action against her. Police have no evidence against me that’s why they have not arrested me,” Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal told the ANI news service.
The alleged assaults took place on 13 different occasions between 2014-2016. The nun went to the police in Kerala on June 29, and the authorities have since then been investigating the charges.
Mulakkal has vehemently denied the charges, and says the nun is retaliating against him for investigating a complaint she had an affair with a married man.
“Police questioned me for nine hours. They took her statement too and there were contradictions. They are studying it as to who’s speaking the truth,” the bishop told the news agency.
This past weekend, several nuns protested against the bishop in the Indian state of Kerala, where the alleged attacks took place.
Jalandhar is in the state of Punjab, which is also the location of the headquarters of the nun’s religious congregation, the Missionaries of Jesus.
“They are free to protest and raise their demands. I do not want to comment on that. Right now, I am in Punjab. I don’t know much about, what all is happening in Kerala,” Mulakkal said. “I’ve heard they’re protesting. It’s their right to protest.”
The bishop told ANI he thinks “some internal forces are using these nuns for some advantage.”
“The anti-Church people are pushing these nuns forward to raise their own issues. There is a conspiracy behind this. A few people are taking advantage of this. I will cooperate with all legal measures,” he said.
Meanwhile, the nun making the allegations has revealed she sent a 7-page letter to the Vatican ambassador to India on Sep. 8 detailing her charges against the bishop, and complaining of silence and inaction on the matter by Church authorities.
“I feel this kind of silence on the part of the Church authorities and protection of those who commit the crime may create a situation where the Church loses its credibility before society,” the nun wrote.
“It will have a very adverse effect on women in the Indian Church that they have no other option than to react in a manner that safeguards their dignity as human persons even at the cost of losing their Catholic faith,” the letter continues.
On Monday, the Missionaries of Jesus issued a statement defending Mulakkal as an “innocent soul,” and condemning the protests this weekend by members of the congregation.