By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: The vicar general of Jalandhar will administer the northern Indian diocese as its beleaguered bishop prepares to face police interrogation in a sexual abuse case in Kerala.
“I leave everything into the hands of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the case. In my absence Monsignor Mathew Kokkandam will administer the diocese as is the normal practice when I am away from the diocese,” Bishop Mulakkal said in a letter sent to all priests, nuns and brothers in diocese.
The Kerala police have asked Bishop Mulakkal to come to Kerala to face a second round of interrogation on September 19. Earlier in the second week of August a team from Kerala had questioned the 54-year-old prelate in his residence in Jalandhar.
The September 13 letter also requests prayers for him as well as “the alleged victim and her supporters who have come out against me so that divine intervention may bring about change of heart and the truth of the matter may be revealed.”
Bishop Mulakkal begins the letter thanking them for their “continued support and prayers me at this time of continued problems affecting my episcopal ministry.”
The letter came to light amid rumors in WhatsApp groups that Bishop Mulakkal has resigned or stepped down under pressure from Rome.
“The bishop has neither resigned nor stepped down,” a senior priest in Jalandhar told Matters India on September 15.
Several groups in India have demanded Bishop Mulakkal’s resignation after a member of the Missionaries of Jesus on June 28 filed a case against the prelate in Kerala accusing him of sexually abusing her 13 times during 2014-2016.
The bishop has denied the charges, calling them “concocted” and said the nun holds a vendetta against him after he had initiated disciplinary action against her. In interviews with Indian television channels on Sept. 10, Mulakkal, 54, said he had advised the present superior of the Missionaries of Jesus to act on a complaint from a married woman who said the nun was having an affair with her husband.
Mulakkal says the allegation against him is “pressure tactics” sponsored by anti-church groups.
The prelate’s letter to his people quoted police report to say that the investigation into the allegations against him has revealed several contradictions in the evidence collected against him.