MUMBAI, India – A bishop in India is vehemently denying the accusations of a nun who says he raped her four years ago.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur said the nun is retaliating against him for taking action against her after it was reported she had an affair with a married man.
“The accused sister began to threaten that she would not allow any enquiry as she was the former superior general and that the accusations are false,” the diocese said in a statement.
“She said that she will leave the [Missionaries of Jesus] congregation if she is called to Jalandhar for the enquiry,” the statement continued, adding that the accuser “felt that she should not be treated like any other sister” since she once held a leadership position in the order.
Mulakkal told ucanews.com that the nun wished to leave her order, so she could pursue a married life, but later withdrew the application but “continued to threaten me with sex allegations.”
“When I finally took action against the nun, her brother threatened to kill me. He sent me a letter saying that he would cut me into pieces if I dared to land in Kerala,” the bishop alleged.
The nun went to the police on June 29 with her accusations and submitted a 72-page statement. The authorities say they will interrogate Mulakkal.
According to police reports, the nun produced documentation and other evidence for her case. Police authorities said she provided details of 13 instances when she was allegedly abused by the accused from 2014-2016. Police said they will also interview residents of the convent in Kuravilangad, which is in Kerala.
Father Peter Kavumkal, the vicar general of the Diocese of Jullundur, told ucanews.com that the nun’s congregation was planning to dismiss her on July 2.
“It is all planned and timed to blackmail the bishop from taking punitive action against her,” Kavumkal said.
He told the news agency that he filed police complaints on June 22 in Kerala and Punjab alleging attempted blackmail on the bishop, as well as the threat made to his life.
“We went to police first,” Kavumkal said.
According to the statement from the Diocese of Jullundur, the nun first told her congregation her accusation on June 23.
The nun has also said she told the leader of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal George Alencherry, of not having a response to her complaint six months ago.
The nun is a member of the Syro-Malabar Church, an eastern rite Catholic jurisdiction based in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
The Syro-Malabar Church is the largest eastern rite Catholic Church in India, and has over 30 dioceses in the country, and four others around the globe, with over five million members.
The Diocese of Jullundur is a Latin rite jurisdiction in the northern Punjab state. Many Syro-Malabar clergy and religious work in Latin rite dioceses.
The lay group Movement for Transparency filed a police complaint against the cardinal, accusing him of a coverup.
“It is a muddy situation of allegations and counter allegations, and an investigation to ascertain the factuality is a must,” said Father Paul Thelakat, the former spokesperson Syro-Malabar Synod.
“I hope the Nuncio [papal representative] will initiate such an investigation,” he told Crux.
He also wondered why Church leaders allowed the issue to “erupt like a volcano,” calling it a “very big scandal.”
Mulakkal says he is prepared to face a police investigation, which he believes will exonerate him.
“I am ready to face any probe. She filed the complaint only after I took action against her. It is nothing but personal vendetta,” the bishop told a local news channel while denying her charges.
“The entire matter should be investigated, and appropriate action should be initiated so that no superior is victimized for legitimate actions against erring members,” the statement from his diocese added.
Regional bishops’ council spokesman Father Varghese Vallikkatt told ucanews.com they are waiting for the investigation to be completed.
“We want the truth to be found out,” the priest.
The case is just the latest scandal to hit the Syro-Malabar Church in India.
Last year, Alencherry, two senior priests and a real estate agent were accused of selling several plots of lands belonging to the cardinal’s Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, incurring a loss of more than $10 million.
Although India’s courts later dismissed the case, the Vatican appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of the Syro-Malabar Diocese as Apostolic Administrator “Sede Plena” of the archdiocese.
Alencherry remains Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church and the Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, but will not be in control of “administrative matters” of his archdiocese.