Mumbai: The office of the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, on Wednesday expressed that Fr. Franco Mulakkal, the bishop of the diocese of Jalandhar, should step down and let an inquiry against him unfold.
The Archbishop of Bombay says that the reputation of the church, not just in Kerala but all over the country, is at stake and stepping down would be the right thing to do, and if the bishop isn’t guilty, then he can very well get back to his position.
Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and president, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said in a statement on social media, “The Archdiocese of Bombay cannot stay silent, while our brothers and sisters are going through harrowing times in Kerala.”
An official from the office of the Archbishop of Bombay said the Vatican could initiate an enquiry and take a decision on the matter.
A source from the office of the Archbishop of Bombay said that there should be an unbiased inquiry into the authenticity of the claims of both parties, and if the bishop is found guilty, it’s a matter of a criminal act, and the court should take cognisance and act accordingly.
In June, a Kerala nun had filed a case against the bishop, accusing him of raping her at least 13 times. Since then, the police intervened and have been investigating the case. However, the nun has also written to the Vatican alleging that the bishop is using his power and money to silence her and other nuns who had also come forward accusing him of inappropriate behaviour.
Normally, the inquiry is initiated by the Vatican, which appoints a senior bishop to conduct the investigation. An inquiry team is constituted which would comprise persons from various fields such as legal experts, a retired police commissioner-level officer and experts on church law. There would also be people who are sensitive to women, in general, to ask the right kind of questions with the right kind of disposition so that the victim does not suffer more humiliation.
Cardinal Gracias is one of the nine cardinal advisers appointed by the Pope and so is currently in the Vatican. The Vatican is currently pondering over the accusations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former chief Vatican diplomat in the United States who has accused the Pope of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.