By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has expressed anguish over “ constant” media attacks on the Church implying that it was trying to cover up a sexual abuse case against a prelate.
“This accusation does not correspond to the truth. Church authorities have studied and continue to examine this serious and complex matter,” says a September 30 press statement from conference president Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
The cardinal issued the note two days after the conference’s Standing Committee met at Bengaluru to address recent happenings in the Indian Church.
The September 27-28 meeting took place three days after a magistrate in Palai, Kerala, sent Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar to police custody until October 5. The 54-year-old bishop is accused to repeatedly raping a Catholic nun between 2014 and 2016. He was arrested on September 21 after three days of intense interrogation.
Bishop Mulakkal has denied the charges.
Cardinal Gracias says the Church did not make any statements on the matter since civil authorities were making their investigations. “We realize that such matters require time and discernment. We reiterate that we have full confidence in the judicial system of our country,” asserts the cardinal, who is one of the eight advisers of Pope Francis.
The press release also said the Standing Committee spent a “special Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament” to pray for the Church in India and seek strength and guidance for the prelates to carry out their responsibilities.
The committee comprises all archbishops and chairperson of various CBCI Offices. They meet twice every year to address various issues affecting the Church and the nation.
The bishops also urged “all people of good will” to pray for those involved the case “that their sufferings might be alleviated, the spiritual wounds healed, the truth recognized and that justice be done.”
Meanwhile on October 1 television channels in Kerala reported that Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally and his auxiliary Bishop Jose Pulickal and Auxiliary Bishop Samuel Mar Iranios of Trivandrum met Bishop Mulakkal in the jail. Earlier, Auxiliary Bishop Jacob Murickan had also met the jailed the bishop.