Jalandhar: Rape accused Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal was welcomed by the Diocese of Jalandhar on Wednesday. Mulakkal has been released on conditional bail. According to The Indian Express, Mulakkal reached Bishop’s House in Jalandhar at around 5 PM and was welcomed by supporters including nuns, and the current Bishop, Agnelo Gracias. Posters featuring Franco and Gracias were also put up in and around the Bishop House, said the report. (Also read: Was Asked to Stay Away From Church-related Duties For Taking Part in Protest, Says Nun) Also Read - Kerala Nun Lucy Kalapura Writes To Vatican On Her Expulsion, Seeks to Meet Pope Francis
The road leading to the Bishop House was jam-packed with hundreds of Mulakkal supporters raising slogans and saying prayers. A nun in the crowd told the daily that she had come from Gurdaspur Church along with several other nuns just to express solidarity with the Mulakkal. Supporters showered flower petals on his vehicle as it entered the Bishop’s House. Also Read - NCW slams Church for not protecting nun's interests
Mulakkal told media, “The prayers of the people of Punjab supported me. I believe that they will pray for me even in the days to come. I thank everyone. Investigation is underway & I am co-operating. I’m a law abiding citizen & I trust the legal system of the country.”
Mulakkal was in Pala jail in Kerala after his arrest on September 21. He had stepped down from his post before leaving for Kerala to join investigation on September 19. He was granted bail on October 15 by Kerala High Court after it was twice rejected by lower courts.
Mulakkal, who headed the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, Punjab, is the first bishop in the country to be sent to jail on charges of rape and he had a steady stream of high profile visitors, including leading politicians.
Nun Sister Lucy Kalapura, who had raised her voice saying that she was asked to stay away from the duties of the church after she had participated in the protest by nuns in Kochi demanding the arrest of Mulakkal, said that the reason for her expulsion wasn’t clear to her. Sister Kalapura said she wanted to know her mistake as she had been fulfilling all her duties clearly and was quite active. She added that while speedy action has been taken against her for taking part in the protest against Mulakkal, the same was not meted in case of the rape accused priest. Sister Kalapura further said that it seems a team of the church Vicars took the decision.