Angry believers and church reformers took to the streets and burned copies of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Thrissur’s 2021 church calendar after it featured the photo of the rape defendant and former bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mullakal.
The month of March had the photo of Mullakal, showing his date of birth and other details. When contacted, a spokesman for the diocese declined to comment. The trial against the former bishop, accused of raping a nun, is in its final stage.
“It shows the attitude of the church authorities. Last year his photo also appeared on the calendar. When the protests took place, authorities said his photo will be removed next year. But it was repeated again this year. It was deliberate, ”said State Our Sisters (SOS) coordinator K Riju. SOS was formed in the wake of a protest against Mullakal two years ago.
Copies of the calendar were burned in Kollam, Pala and Kottayam, church reformers said. They asked the ecclesiastical authorities not to glorify the accused of rape any more. They alleged that a prominent section of the clergy still supported the deposed bishop.
The case against Mullkal arose in 2018 after a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, complained to police in Kottayam that Mullakkal had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016.
The nun is a member of the Punjab-based Missionaries of Jesus congregation. But Mullakkal denied her allegations and said he was framed after he took action against her for financial irregularities at the convent. Later, the Kerala Police Special Investigation Team arrested him after several rounds of interrogation. He was later removed from the post of bishop.
The SIT had filed the charge sheet against him last year and reportedly made several attempts to delay the trial. His petition to drop the charges against him was dismissed by the Supreme Court in November.