Pope Temporarily Relieves Bishop Mulakkal of Pastoral Duties

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The police, who questioned the bishop for eight hours on the second consecutive day at the Tripunithura Crime Branch office, allowed him to leave the station with the questioning set to continue on Friday. The SP maintained that the decision to arrest the bishop would be taken after Friday's questioning.

On September 16, Mulakkal had written a letter to Pope Francis and sought permission to temporarily step down from his responsibilities at the Jalandhar Diocese.

The nun has accused the senior Catholic priest of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016, allegations denied by the clergyman who has pleaded innocence.

Possibly realising that his options were narrowing down, the bishop formally requested the Vatican to relieve him of the responsibilities.

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The nun wrote to Apostolic Nuncio, the representative of the Pope in India, demanding justice in the matter, following which the Vatican formed a one-member panel to probe the rape allegations against the priest.

He said the investigating officer was free to take a call on the issue.

When asked whether Mulakkal can be arrested before September 25, the day his anticipatory bail plea will come up for hearing in the high court, the top police officer said, "I think, legally there is no problem".

According to India Today, the statement said, "The nun who has complained against the bishop has conspired in connivance with nine others, including five nuns, against the bishop".

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Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar said the bishop's questioning was likely to be over on Thursday.

The Vatican's decision was welcomed by the nuns protesting against Mulakkal, reported PTI. The nuns and their families are facing mental trauma and continuous pressure from the church, but they are keen to fight for their fellow sister.

Reportedly, this is the first time in the Catholic church's history in Kerala that nuns have come out in protest against the church authorities and the police, who have been allegedly trying to delay the process of investigation and the resultant arrest. "The charge against the bishop is very serious - it's rape".

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