Angry believers and church reformers hit the street and burnt copies of the 2021 calendar of Thrissur Archdiocese of Syro-Malabar church after it featured the photo of rape accused and former bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mullakal.
The month of March had Mullakal’s photo, displaying his date of birth and other details. When contacted, a spokesman of the diocese refused to comment. The trial against the former bishop, who is accused of raping a nun, is in final stages.
“It shows the attitude of church authorities. Last year also his photo appeared on the calendar. When protests took place, authorities said his photo will be taken out next year. But it was again repeated this year. It was deliberate,” said convener of the State Our Sisters (SOS) K Riju. SOS was formed in the wake of a protest against Mullakal two years ago.
Copies of the calendar were burnt in Kollam, Pala and Kottayam, said church reformers. They asked church authorities not to glorify the rape accused any more. They alleged that a prominent section of the clergy still supported the deposed bishop.
The case against Mullkal surfaced in 2018 after a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, had complained to the police in Kottayam that Mullakkal had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016.
The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab. But Mullakkal denied her allegations, saying he was framed after he took action against her for financial irregularities at the convent. Later the special investigation team of Kerala police arrested him after several rounds of questioning. He was removed from the post of bishop later.
The SIT had filed the charge sheet against him last year and he reportedly made several attempts to delay the trial. His petition seeking to quash charges against him was dismissed by the Supreme Court in November.