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  India   All India  21 Sep 2018  Pope divests Bishop of pastoral duties

Pope divests Bishop of pastoral duties

Published : Sep 21, 2018, 1:55 am IST
Updated : Sep 21, 2018, 1:55 am IST

Sources in the Special Investigating Team probing the case said the interrogation was likely to conclude on Friday.

Franco Mulakkal (Photo: Twitter | ANI)
 Franco Mulakkal (Photo: Twitter | ANI)

Kochi: Priest Franco Mulakkal was Thursday grilled for more than eight hours by Kerala police over allegations of rape and unnatural sex levelled by a nun and he will be questioned for the third straight day on Friday, the police said.

The Vatican has, meanwhile, divested Mulakkal, who was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of Missionaries of Jesus despite shedding his administrative role, of his pastoral responsibilities “temporarily”, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said.

“We had decided to complete the interrogation today. But it could not be completed even after 7:30 pm. Verification is required in matters so far placed before the investigation team and that will be completed by Friday morning.

“Three teams will verify them. So, the investigation will continue tomorrow also. By tomorrow we will be able to complete the verification,” Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar said after the marathon questioning of the priest.

Terming the interrogation as “positive”, he said Mulakkal has been issued a notice to appear before the SIT at 10.30 am.

Sources in the Special Investigating Team probing the case said the interrogation was likely to conclude on Friday. He was questioned for over seven hours on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Kerala’s police chief Loknath Behera said the decision on whether to arrest Mulakkal will be taken in the next couple of days. “After examining him only a decision will be taken. Investigating team is examining him. Let us wait. A decision will be definitely taken today or tomorrow after the interrogation,” Mr Behera told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

Amid the continued outrage over the alleged sexual assault of the nun, the CBCI said Pope Francis had temporarily relieved him of his pastoral responsibilities, a decision that was welcomed by the protesting nuns who termed the development as the “first victory” in their fight against the former bishop.

“The Pope appointed Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Bombay Agnelo Rufino Gracias as the Apostolic administrator of the diocese of Jalandhar with immediate effect,” a CBCI statement said. The Pope took the decision in response to Mulakkal’s September 16 letter offering to “step aside temporarily” as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council Spokesman Fr Varghese Vallikkattu said.    

Tags: franco mulakkal, special investigating teams, conference of india, sexual assault
Location: India, Kerala, Cochin (Kochi)