The Kerala Police probing the case pertaining to the alleged rape of a senior nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar Latin Catholic Diocese is expected to question Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, head of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who is facing the charge of refusing to act on the nun’s complaint against the Bishop.
The investigators may also question the Catholic Bishop of the Pala Diocese as well as the Vicar of the parish church at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district where Bishop Mulakkal had allegedly abused the 44-year-old nun sexually. The victim claims that she had petitioned the Vicar and the Pala Bishop against the Jalandhar Bishop but no action was taken by them too.
The police would also record the statement of the doctor who had performed medical examination on the nun for confirming sexual assault. The Pala Bishop and the Kuravilangad Vicar are likely to be questioned on Thursday while the statement of Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, will be recorded later.
As per the complaint the nun had submitted to the Kottayam district police chief last month-end, Bishop Mulakkal had sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at the guest house attached to her convent in Kuravilangad. She had said that the Bishop had raped her first on May 5, 2014 when he had stayed at the guest house when he visited Kerala.
According to the nun, she had submitted a complaint to Cardinal Alencherry against Bishop Mulakkal last November but he had refused to take action. The Cardinal had reportedly told the nun that there was nothing he, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, could do in the matter as it related to the Jalandhar Diocese of the Latin Catholic Church.
The nun, who had served for several years under the Jalandhar Diocese, had said that she had approached the police with her complaint against the Bishop after all her efforts to get justice from within the Church failed. The victim had claimed that she had even petitioned The Vatican by e-mail and its envoy in India but no action was taken.
However, the Cardinal on his return last week from a visit to The Vatican denied receiving any complaint from the nun though he admitted that she had come to meet him. He claimed that the nun had spoken to him about “some problems in their convent” and that she had not given him any complaint against Bishop Mulakkal.
An activist of a forum working for transparency in the Syro-Malabar Church last week lodged a complaint with the Kochi police seeking legal action against Cardinal Alencherry, who is already facing the charge of involvement in a multi-crore rupee land scam in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, for trying to cover up the complaint by not informing the police about it.
Sources say that the police are not yet prepared to trust the Cardinal’s claim that the nun had not given him any complaint.
Also, the victim had reportedly handed over to the investigators the other day a copy of the complaint she had given to the Cardinal, making the situation all the more difficult for him.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court is likely to pronounce on Wednesday its verdict on the anticipatory bail applications filed by four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who are accused of sexually exploiting a young married woman from Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district by blackmailing her using her confession secrets.
The priests — Fr Abraham Varghese, Fr Job Mathew, Fr Johnson V Mathew and Fr Jaise K George — had approached the High court last week with bail pleas amidst reports that the police’s Crime Branch probing the scandal might arrest them any moment on the basis of the statements the woman had given to it as well as before a court and available evidences.
On Monday, the woman moved the High Court seeking permission to implead in the case and praying to reject the anticipatory bail pleas. The priests argued that the complaint had been lodged almost a decade after the first incident of sexual exploitation but the court asked them whether they thought that the delay in complaining would in any way work out in their favour.