Kerala Nun Rape: Father Who Testified Against Bishop Franco Found Dead
One of the prime witnesses who had vehemently spoken up against the rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was found dead in Jalandhar, Punjab. The deceased, father Kuriakose Kattuthara had testified against Bishop Mulakkal to the Kerala police. Kuriakose’s family allege that he has been killed for speaking against the rape accused.
According to The News Minute, on Monday, October 22, father Kuriakose, (62) was found dead in his room at St Paul’s church. A police officer said no injury was found, but there were signs he had vomited. Blood pressure medicine was also found near him, as reported by the NDTV. However, The exact cause of his death is still unknown.
Foul play suspected
Brother of the deceased, Jose Kattuthara told Mathrubhumi news that he suspects foul play in his death. He alleged that his brother had been killed for speaking up against Mulakkal to the police in the rape case of a nun from Missionaries of Jesus.
Father Kuriakose had earlier stated that he was under immense pressure from the church officials after he came up in support of the nuns who had accused the Bishop of rape. While talking to the Mathrubhumi, Father Kuriakose said, that the sisters before even approaching the Kerala police had contacted him and had complained about Bishop Franco as they were scared of the Bishop. He had also said that he feared about that what would happen to him after he had come up and complained about the rape accused.
Father Kuriakose was a vocational teacher at Jalandhar diocese (a district under the care of a bishop in the Christian Church).
“We are very shocked to hear this news. Father Kuriakose has taught me and he was part of our parish as well. He was a crucial witness in our case as he had given statements against Bishop Franco to the police. I haven’t been in touch with him, but I had heard from other priests that he had been facing a lot of pressure of late, with many in the church pointing fingers at him. We feel the circumstances of his death are suspicious and may affect our case against Bishop Franco,” said sister Anupama, who had led the protests against Bishop Franco.
Rape accused received a grand welcome
Amid protests by the Kerala nun and other supporters, Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Diocese of Jalandhar, who was accused of raping a nun between 2014 to 2016 was arrested September 21. However, Mulakkal was granted conditional bail in the case on October 15 in the nun rape case. A day later when he was released from a jail near Kottayam Mulakkal welcomed with garlands and petals were showered on him. While granting Mulakkal bail, the Kerala High Court ordered the bishop to surrender his passport to the court. The court has also forbidden him from entering Kerala.
What had happened?
Reportedly, a nun from Missionaries of Jesus in Kottayam filed a complaint against the Bishop, accusing him of raping her repeatedly 13 times since the year 2014. When the church failed to take action on this matter, the nun approached the Kerala police and also staged protests demanding his arrest.
The Missionaries of Jesus congregation, to which the nuns belong, condemned the nun’s allegation and protests against the bishop.
We condemn 5 nuns protesting with some orgs working against church. Our conscious doesn't allow us to crucify an innocent soul (Jalandhar Bishop) based on sexual abuse allegations by a nun. We suspect nuns have been forced into protest by external influence: Missionaries of Jesus
— ANI (@ANI) September 10, 2018
As the demands for Mulakkal’s arrest grew, the missionaries temporarily relieved him of all pastoral responsibilities, after Mulakkal expressed a desire to step down. He also wrote to the Vatican.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal has written to the Pope on 16 Sep expressing his desire to step down temporarily from the responsibilities of the diocese and has sought permission for the same: Diocese of Jalandhar on #KeralaNun rape case
— ANI (@ANI) September 17, 2018
Following this, the bishop was booked under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. The bishop has swiftly denied all the charges which were filed against him and reportedly said that it was a “conspiracy.”