NEW DELHI — A Catholic bishop who was accused of repeatedly raping a nun in southern India over a two-year interval was acquitted on Friday, bringing an finish for now to what gave the impression to be the nation’s first case of its sort.
The bishop, Franco Mulakkal, who had been on trial since 2020, had constantly mentioned he was harmless. “Praise the Lord,” he mentioned after the decision within the metropolis of Kottayam in Kerala State.
The choose overseeing the trial, G. Gopakumar, mentioned prosecutors had didn’t show their case, in response to information studies. Investigating officers in Kerala mentioned the ruling can be appealed to the next courtroom.
The case, believed to be the primary in India wherein a bishop was charged with raping a nun, highlighted deep divisions throughout the Catholic Church within the nation. The church was gradual to react to the nun’s accusations towards Bishop Mulakkal, and it did so solely after 5 of her fellow nuns protested publicly in assist of her.
The nun, who belongs to the Missionaries of Jesus non secular order, first introduced her accusations to the church authorities in January 2017. She approached almost a dozen church officers, together with bishops, a cardinal and representatives of the Vatican.
In official police complaints, the nun’s household mentioned the assaults occurred at her convent, the St. Francis Mission Home, in Kerala, which is residence to lots of India’s 20 million Catholics.
Just earlier than Bishop Mulakkal was arrested and briefly detained in September 2018, the church eliminated him from his administrative duties within the northern Indian metropolis of Jalandhar, the place he had been serving. Formal costs had been introduced towards him in April 2019, weeks after Pope Francis acknowledged that the sexual abuse of nuns by clergymen was a unbroken downside throughout the church.
The bishop was charged with raping the nun 9 instances between 2014 and 2016, throughout visits he made to Kerala. He was additionally charged underneath legal guidelines towards intimidation, unlawful confinement and unnatural intercourse.