Senior Catholic priest, Franco Mulakkal, has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties by Pope Francis.
A statement issued by the Apostolic Nunciature, the representative of the Holy Sea in India, stated that "The Holy Father has received the request of Rt. Rev. Bishop Franco Mulakkal to be temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities in the Diocese of Jullundur. Having considered all circumstances the Holy Father has accepted this request of Bishop Mulakkal."
The move comes days after the Bishop, who allegedly raped a nun, wrote to the Pope, the highest authority in the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, expressing his desire to 'temporarily step aside' from the responsibilities of the diocese, allowing him time to fight his case and repeated travels to Kerala, where the case is lodged.
The statement from the Nunciature added that Titular bishop of Molicunza and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, Agnelo Rufino Gracias will stand for Bishop Malakkal in the latter's absence.
The development comes after a Kerala nun alleged that Bishop Malakkal raped her on several occasions between 2014 and 2016, a charge that the prelate denied, terming them "baseless and concocted".
The senior priest is in Kerala after the state police summoned him for questioning related to the case.
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