Rape-accused Franco Mulakkal resigns as Jalandhar Bishoptext_fields
Franco Mulakkal, the Catholic priest who was acquitted of sexual assault charges by the Additional District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, has stepped down as the Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese on Thursday.
Mulakkal, was temporarily relieved of pastoral duties in 2018 following allegations of rape by a nun.
According to PTI, his resignation was requested by the Vatican not as a disciplinary measure imposed upon him, in the best interest of the Jalandhar diocese which needs a new bishop.
The 59-year-old will now serve as Bishop Emeritus of Jalandhar, reports said. Traditionally, Bishops hand in their resignation when they turn 75.
Mulakkal confirmed that his resignation has been accepted by the Holy See in a video statement.
Mulakkal had met the Pope on February 8 this year, his first meeting with the pontiff after being acquitted by the court in the rape case.
Mulakkal was accused by a nun, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a congregation affiliated with the Jalandhar diocese, of multiple counts of rape during his visit to her convent in Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.
Following this, Mulakkal was arrested and remanded to judicial custody. During this time, he was also temporarily relieved of his responsibilities in the diocese by Pope Francis.
However, he was acquitted of rape charges by the Additional District and Sessions Court in Kottayam in January 2022.
While the Vatican accepted the court’s decision, Mulakkal was not given any new responsibilities within the church.
The nun has moved the Kerala High Court against his acquittal in the case by the trial court.
Mulakkal rejected the allegations against him, calling them a conspiracy against the church.