NUN: In the wake of Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s resignation as Jalandhar Bishop, a priest and key member of the ‘Save Our Sisters‘ (SOS) campaign in Kerala expressed optimism about the survivor nun’s unwavering fight for justice. The SOS forum, comprising nuns, priests, and prominent members of civil society, was established to support the nun when she bravely came forward with rape charges against the influential bishop several years ago.
Fr. Augustine Vattoly, a senior Catholic priest and the convenor of the SOS forum, regarded Mulakkal’s resignation as a small relief for the survivor nun and her fellow nuns who had endured vicious attacks on social media for their accusations against the former bishop. Fr. Vattoly had the opportunity to speak with the survivor nun following the Vatican’s announcement of Mulakkal’s resignation on Thursday evening.
While the survivor nun does not experience blind happiness, she remains hopeful and resolute in her pursuit of justice. Fr. Vattoly emphasized that her determination to continue the fight remains steadfast. Bishop Mulakkal, who was acquitted by a local court in Kerala last year in the nun rape case, stepped down from his position as Jalandhar Bishop. However, this has challenged the trial court’s decision at the Kerala High Court, seeking justice through legal means.
Fr. Vattoly recounted the immense hardships the survivor nun had endured throughout her battle for justice. She had faced mental torment from society, her community, and the powerful entities within the church, surpassing anything she could have imagined. The attacks she endured through various media channels, including social media, deeply scarred and pained her. Therefore, Mulakkal’s resignation provides a small measure of relief to the survivor and her fellow nuns.
The survivor had accused Mulakkal of raping her multiple times during his visits to a convent in Kottayam, Kerala, between 2014 and 2016, when he served as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese in Punjab. Belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the Jalandhar Diocese, the survivor nun found solace in the support she received from the ‘Save Our Sisters’ campaign and others advocating for justice.
Fr. Vattoly strongly criticised Mulakkal for proclaiming his innocence in his resignation message, suggesting that the bishop may have believed that reciting biblical verses and the words of Jesus Christ would sway the faithful to his side. Fr. Vattoly dismissed Mulakkal’s tears as insincere and expressed that it would have been a disgrace for the church had he continued to hold his position.
When asked whether the survivor would find justice through Mulakkal’s resignation, Fr. Vattoly affirmed that true justice would only be achieved when granted by the court. He emphasised that it is only then that they can truly ensure justice for the survivor.
In a video message, Mulakkal expressed gratitude to those who supported him during his “difficult time” and invoked a sense of renewal for the church, the strengthening of faith, his personal sanctification, and the glory of God. A church source confirmed that the Vatican has communicated to the bishop that his resignation will not be treated as disciplinary action against him.
In September 2018, Pope Francis temporarily relieved the bishop of his diocese responsibilities following questioning by the Kerala police regarding the rape charges brought forth by them. Despite being acquitted by the local court in the high-profile case, Mulakkal was not assigned any new responsibilities within the church. The Vatican had previously accepted the court’s judgment acquitting him of the rape charges.
Unwavering Resolve: Kerala Nun’s Determination Shines Through in Response to Franco Mulakkal’s Resignation
The survivor nun’s resolute battle continues, bolstered by the unwavering support of campaigners and individuals dedicated to seeking justice. Her determination to pursue legal avenues highlights the importance of holding those in positions of power accountable, ultimately striving for a just and fair society.
The survivor nun’s unwavering determination and the continued support she receives from campaigners and concerned individuals reflect a collective commitment to justice and accountability. Her decision to persist in her fight through the legal system underscores the significance of upholding the principles of fairness and equity in society.
The ‘Save Our Sisters’ campaign, consisting of nuns, priests, and prominent members of civil society, stands firmly behind the survivor nun as she seeks justice for the alleged crimes committed against her. This collective effort demonstrates the power of solidarity in addressing systemic issues and advocating for change.
Fr. Augustine Vattoly, the convenor of the SOS forum, expressed both relief and admiration for the survivor nun’s resilience in the face of intense social media attacks and the challenges posed by powerful entities within the church. The mental and emotional toll she has endured throughout her ordeal cannot be underestimated, but her determination to continue the fight for justice remains unshaken.
While Bishop Franco Mulakkal‘s resignation from his position as Jalandhar Bishop may provide some solace to the survivor nun and her fellow nuns, Fr. Vattoly aptly emphasises that true justice will only be achieved through the legal process. The survivor’s decision to pursue her case in court demonstrates her unwavering commitment to seeking a fair resolution and holding the accused accountable for their actions.