By Matters India Reporter
Kochi: A retired judge was among hundreds who on September 9 supported five Catholic nuns as their indefinite sit-in demonstration in Kerala entered the second day.
The nuns, belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus, are demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar accused of raping a nun.
Former High Court judge Kemal Pasha expressed solidarity with attended the protest organized by the Joint Christian Council near the High Court Junction in Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala. Justice Pasha said the nuns had set a courageous example.
“This is not a fight against the Catholic Church but against grave injustice,” he added.
He regretted that the hands of the police appeared to be tied and it was a shame that no action had been taken against the bishop so far.
If there was prima facie evidence against the bishop in the case, he should have been subjected to a potency test, which is an important procedure in the investigation in a rape case.
However, the police probing the case had not initiated it so far and the delay will in a way help the accused escape during the course of trial, he said.
A legislator, P.T. Thomas, said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan owed an explanation to the people of the state as to why there was no action yet against the bishop.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president M.M. Hassan said the nuns should get justice. “Their demand is genuine. They have the moral support of the Congress. The Congress is not against the Church, but against the crime committed by the bishop,” he added.
Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary Kanam Rajendran supported the nuns’ protest, while expressing his faith in the ongoing police probe against the bishop.
Rajendran told the media that everyone had the right to democratically stage protests. However, he did not support the demand that the investigation be completed within a time-frame. “It cannot be demanded that evidence be collected within a time-frame since the incident occurred some time ago,” he added.
More than a dozen Catholic nuns and priests participated in the protest meeting on September 9.
Father Paul Thelakat, editor of the Sathyadeepam weekly, said the hierarchy’s reluctance to act against the bishop has brought great shame to the entire Church. He termed it as total failure of Church bodies such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council.
Father Thelakat, former spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, said the Church, society, the nation and the police should stand with the nun.
Kerala Rationalists’ Association members marched to the site of the protest in support of the nuns.
On September 8, one of the nuns had said they were prepared to go “to any extent for ensuring justice to our sister.”
She sought to know why the bishop had not been arrested despite “sufficient evidence” against him and also questioned the church’s stand on the matter.
The bishop has been accused of rape and unnatural sex with the complainant multiple times between 2014 and 2016.
A special team probing the case has said that according to preliminary investigations, Bishop Franco abused his position and repeatedly raped the nun.