Rape accused bishop’s suspension demanded


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by: mattersindia.com

 Isaac GomesSo a 178-member group of progressive Catholic religious priests, nuns and laity has submitted a letter to the Nuncio, who is based in Delhi as the Pope's ambassador.  Through the Nuncio and also through another letter sent to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who belongs to la creme de la creme of the Vatican (the Pope's inner circle), the group mounted pressure on Vatican to act against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar who has been accused of raping a Catholic nun, several times.

At the outset let it be made clear that we are not pronouncing Bishop Franco Mulakkal guilty of rape. This is something which is yet to be proved as the matter is under Kerala police investigation. Whether it will shoved up in cold storage like Cardinal Alencherry's multi-crore land scam case, is a matter of conjecture. But since an allegation of rape has been levelled on him by none other than a senior nun, a member of the Bishop's religious community, it must be taken seriously. So without an iota of doubt, the Bishop must step aside, for the sake of a fair probe.  This is the practice in Corporate circles and in the government.  On top of it we have the not so distant precedent of Cardinal George Pell at the Vatican. One of Pope Francis' most trusted advisers and hand-picked by him, Cardinal George Pell was asked by the Pope to step aside as Vatican Finance Chief, to face trial in Australia, for sexual abuse he supposedly committed in 1970s. Like the Bishop of Jalandhar, Cardinal Pell too pleaded not guilty to the charges but he stepped aside. So following the Vatican precedent, Bishop Franco Mulakkal MUST step aside as a Bishop,  shorn of all his powers both spiritual and temporal. His claim that he is innocent and blaming the nun for seeking revenge on him will not suffice.

Regarding the credibility of the CBCI policy (raised in the letter), there are many policies of CBCI which are on paper only – CBCI is nonchahalant about their implementation. Education. Women and Youth are three such policies which are highly diluted and flagrantly violated by the Church itself. The Syro-Malankara Church, Kerala Confession-cum-rape case is one of the clear indicators of this violation and malaise within the Church. The resolutions taken at the biennial CBCI Bishops Conference are mostly confined to cold storage and are hardly implemented, especially the Role of the Laity which looks up to the Clergy for its role as is evident from the Laity Seminar held in Kolkata on 8th July 2018, where the two keynote speakers were from the Clergy.  Are we so short of Lay Leaders? No wonder the wife or daughter of a devout lay member is being raped by members of the clergy – either taking advantage of the sacrament of confession or forcing a nun to submit to the power of a superior by taking advantage of the Vow of Obedience. It's time the Laity woke up from its blissful slumber and seriously questioned the Sacrament of Reconciliation (in its present form of confession to priests) and the Vow of Obedience which makes one to keep quiet even when raped. I recall one senior leader (who always wears a big cross) of the Laity Commission and of a senior nun in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. Both would sing loudly "Parish Priest is a King." So no doubt because of crony lay leaders and subservient nuns like this, a Bishop or Archbishop considers himself an "Emperor" and monarch of all he surveys including young nuns.

Regarding the letter of 178-member group to Cardinal Gracias, hardly any diocese/ archdiocese adheres to points 1-3 of the letter. It has been more than fifty years since the Vatican II documents were made public. How many parishes talk of these to their parishioners? The same is the fate of the Policy to prevent and deal with the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace. These documents are not disseminated to all the faithful and stake holders in Church and Church institutions. If this policy (Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace) is made public, then some members of the clergy will be caught with their pants down.

Even in the Archbihop's House in Calcutta, this Policy including the *Vishakha norms/ Guidelines (The Sexual Harassment at workplace Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on 2 September 2012 – superseded by Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace – Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal – Act 2013) are reportedly, not in place. The secretary is very vulnerable as she works among priests and male staff, without any female protection and Vishakha Guidelines / Safey Net in place. 

The Laity which constitutes ninety-nine per cent of the Church (as per Bishop Stephen Lepcha, Bishop of Darjeeling who is also Chairman of Regional Laity Commission, West Bengal-Sikkim) is to blame for still preferring to be SLEEPING GIANTS and allowing the same set of lame-duck Laity Leaders who wear different hats for different occasions, to represent them. Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.



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New Delhi: A group of progressive Catholic religious priests, nuns and laity has mounted pressure on Vatican to act against an Indian Bishop accused of raping a Catholic nun.

They have urged the Apostolic nuncio to India Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) Cardinal Oswald Gracias to advise Pope Francis to relieve the accused bishop of his pastoral responsibilities to pave way for an impartial probe.

The police in Sothern Indian state of Kerala are probing alleged charges of rape and unnatural sex against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, based in north Indian state of Punjab.

The survivor in her complaint accused the prelate of raping her 13-times between 2014–2016 in a convent in Kerala where she was superior. Both the nun and the prelate are from Kerala.

She belongs to a local congregation of women working in Jalandhar diocese under the direct control of the accused prelate.

The 178 member group led by Indian Christian Women Movement consisting nearly 70 nuns 15 priests and the laity exhorted the Church leadership to prove its “zero tolerance to sex abuse” in the Church with the removal of the prelate from all pastoral responsibilities.

The group sent separate letters to this effect to the nuncio and Cardinal Gracias appealing them to “…please advise Pope Francis to relieve the bishop concerned of his pastoral responsibilities, so that the Church is seen to actually practice the ‘zero tolerance’ it professes to observe in abuse cases”.

According to them continuance of the accused prelate in his office “will erode the faith of the people in the credibility of the Church to implement its policy of zero tolerance and act justly in abuse matters”.

The group also requested Bishops in India to publicise and create adequate awareness about the CBCI Guidelines to deal with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 2017 and institute the structures and procedures described therein without further delay.

According to them, to preach justice the Church must be seen to practice justice (Synod of Bishops, 1971).

“Sadly the representations made by the Religious sisters to the Bishops have brought no response, raising issues about the credibility of the CBCI policy”, they noted in the letter to Cardinal Gracias.

Other issues raised in the letter to the Cardinal as follows;

1. Every diocese respects and complies with the State laws with regard to addressing abuse cases of minors and sexual harassment of women in the Church.

2. The policy to prevent and deal with Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, as well as the Policy to prevent and deal with the Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace are disseminated to all the faithful and stake holders in Church and Church institutions so that they can be effectively implemented.

3. The required structures are set up within every diocese of the Church in India to address cases of sexual abuse and to prevent repeat bungling and criminal activity, not to speak of untold damage to the reputation of the Church and the faith of its people. The contact details of persons responsible to receive complaints should also be publicized prominently.

4. Greater attention is paid to the choice of candidates for the priesthood as well as to their formation in the seminary. This must include conscientization with regard to patriarchal attitudes that promote condescension and even aggression towards those considered “inferior”, and clericalism that is perceived to place the ordained outside civil law and permits lack of accountability and transparency. At its root, sexual abuse is ultimately not about sexuality or celibacy, but about the gross misuse of the disproportionate power assigned to clergy.

5. Catholic Church leadership in India does not take a silent or indifferent stand when a case is reported because it apparently protects the perpetrator. When a man who represents God to people, is a sexual offender, faith in the God he represents is shaken to the core.

To the physical, mental and psychological trauma of the victim is added spiritual trauma. Not just the victim, but the entire family, the faith community and all those involved in the fight for justice are affected, and all need spiritual healing.

We trust that Christ who is our light, and who always stood up against the exploitation of women will stand with the Church and give the CBCI the courage to do what is right in the cause of justice for women in the Church. Pope Francis has shown the way by holding accused Bishops accountable even at risk to the reputation of the Church. We look to our bishops to follow his example.


* The Vishakha judgment had recommended a Complaints Committee at all workplaces, headed by a woman employee, with not less than half of its members being women. All complaints of sexual harassment by any woman employee would be directed to this committee. This is significant because an immediate supervisor may also be the perpetrator. The committee advises the victim on further course of action and recommends to the management the course of action against the man accused of harassment.  Vishakha Guidelines need to be taken seriously and not followed in a "Ritualistic Manner" – Delhi High Court Judgment dated 30th May 2018.

Readers may refer to the following website (The Hindu dated 2nd April 2017) for further information:

Vishaka Guidelines Need To Be Taken Seriously And Not Followed In A “Ritualistic Manner”: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]…









Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/vishaka-guidelines-need-to-be-taken-seriously-and-not-followed-in-a-ritualistic-manner-delhi-hc-read-judgment/

Vishaka Guidelines Need To Be Taken Seriously And Not Followed In A “Ritualistic Manner”: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]…









Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/vishaka-guidelines-need-to-be-taken-seriously-and-not-followed-in-a-ritualistic-manner-delhi-hc-read-judgment/

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