Bishop in India accused of raping nun arrested in Kerala state

(Photo: REUTERS / Rupak De Chowdhuri)Catholic nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, the global order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, take part in a mass to mark the 17th anniversary of her death in Kolkata September 5, 2014. Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace laureate who died in 1997, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003 at the Vatican.

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala have arrested Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal for allegedly raping a nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

India Today reported that Mulakkal has become the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a case of sexual abuse against a nun.

The arrest was made on Sept. 21 in Kochi in the southwest of India after three days of interrogation.

Police said a 44-year-old woman registered a police complaint in June, alleging that the Catholic Church had taken no action despite repeated appeals.

Mulakkal, 54, wrote to the Vatican last week asking to be relieved of administration of his diocese, Catholic News Agency reported.

His request was granted, and Bishop Agnelo Gracias, an Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, was appointed apostolic administrator of Jullundur on Sept. 20 said CNS.

It said a nun, who is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, had said that Bishop Mulakkal raped her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala.

In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.

It led to unprecedented protests by nuns who came out in support of her.

The case has shocked what is one of India's oldest Christian communities and attracted national attention, reported the BBC.

Bishop Mulakkal denies the accusations and he was to appear in court on Sept. 22.

Mulakkal is the bishop of a diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab.

The nun has not spoken to the media but she petitioned the Vatican and wrote an open letter to the Pope's representative in the Indian capital of Delhi earlier this month.

She claimed that this was the fourth letter she had addressed to the Vatican said the BBC.

Nuns in Kerala have called for the bishop's arrest for weeks

"We experience neglect from every side. We feel the Catholic Church is having concern only for the bishops and priests. We would like to know if there is any provision in the Canon Law for justice for nuns and women,'' she wrote.

Christians account for a tiny minority in India making up less than 3 percent of the population.

In Kerala state, however Christians make up around 20 percent.

Christians have lived and worshipped in Kerala for around 2,000 years.

Kranganor, on the coast of Kerala, is the cradle of Christianity in India where according to legend, St Thomas, or Doubting Thomas - one of the 12 apostles of Jesus - first came ashore there in AD52.

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