Bishop Franco Mulakkal may just be the tip of the iceberg, Catholic Church needs reforms

Recently the now infamous Bishop Franco Mulakkal is in news again. A Kottayam court in Kerala had last week cancelled Mulakkal’s bail for his failure to appear for the trial in the rape case and issued a non-bailable warrant against him. Mulakkal has now claimed that he cannot surrender as he has COVID19 and has also moved the Supreme Court. The Bishop has multiple allegations of rape and sexual harassment of Catholic nuns against him.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal

The case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal

Franco Mulakkal was appointed Bishop of the Catholic Church in 2009. It must be noted here that Bishop is one of the highest posts in the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Pope himself is Bishop of Rome.

From 2014 to 2016, Mulakkal is said to have visited a convent in Kottayam, Kerala repeatedly. The convent is basically a place for catholic nuns to lead a secluded life while engaged in prayers.

According to Catholic Church hierarchy, nuns work under a male priest and the priests have complete power over them. Due to this religiously sanctioned power dynamic, it is very difficult for a nun to raise voice against exploitation by priests. Unfortunately, we do not hear many feminists raising this institutional suppression of females in Christianity.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, a beneficiary of this power dynamic, is alleged to have raped a particular nun 13 times during his visits to the said convent. Many more complaints of sexual abuse were made by other nuns against this “hawas ka Bishop”. The official complaint against him is of rape as well as “unnatural sex”.

How Catholic Church helped the rapist Bishop 

As the incident came to light, a movement called “Save our Sisters” became very active in Kerala. The victim nuns and their relatives, along with civil society demanded for arrest of Franco.

In the meanwhile, Catholic Church acted against the victims! Those were “punished” and thrown out of the convent!  The convent had been their home for years. Not only that, the dirty tricks department of the Church went in an overdrive against them.

They were accused of having a ‘loose character’. Their photos with the rapist were made public, in contravention of law! Supporters of Church including Christian Times, made continuous attempts to character assassinate the nuns!

In face of mounting public hostility, Catholic Church had to beat a retreat. Mulakkal stepped down, “temporarily” after more than 2 months of continuous protests.

He asserted his innocence but also said that “only divine intervention” can save him. Clearly, there is some irrefutable evidence against him. Fortunately, “divine interventions” are rare in Bhartiya courts.

A global ring of Catholic rapists and pedophiles

This is not the first case of sexual misconduct in Catholic Church. In early 2002, Spotlight team at The Boston Globe published results of an investigation that brought the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy into the national spotlight. In 2015, the movie based on this story bagged the Oscar Award for Best Picture.

Subsequent investigations and allegations revealed a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-ups in a number of large dioceses across the United States. Ultimately, it became clear that priests and lay members of religious orders in the Catholic Church had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations reached into the thousands over several decades!

Although the majority of cases were reported to have occurred in the United States, victims have come forward in other nations such as Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Catholic Bishops helped these pedophile priests and kept their crimes secret! They did not remove these priests, but just reassigned the accused to other parishes/churches. They accused still were in positions of power and had continued unsupervised contact with children, thus allowing the abusers to continue their crimes.

Catholic Bishops worldwide have aided and abetted the sexual abuse of common people, nuns and small children for years. There is no reason to believe that situation in Bharat would be any different. Indeed, a detailed investigation could prove that Franco Mulakkal is just the tip of the iceberg.

Catholic church has a history of sexual misconduct!

This raises the question on the Catholic Church as an institution? The history of the Church certainly does not inspire any confidence. In medieval times, the sins of Catholic church became clear to all thinking people. Protestant Christianity arose in response to sins of Catholic Church. It is another matter that Protestant sects like Southern Baptists in US, a powerful evangelical Protestant sect, are also mired in similar sexual abuse scandals.

There is a whole wikipedia article on Popes who were sexually active, fathered illegitimate children during the time of their Papacy and some also had homosexual relationships while occupying the ‘Holy See’. Of course, all sins could be expiated by donating money to Church! Had not Christ already died for their sins?

What could be said about normal priests? महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः!  Voltaire writing in 18th century (Candide) mentions how pedophilia was still a thing with Jesuit Priests! Evidently, as this article shows, things have not changed much in 21st century.

Conclusion

Bharat’s Christian leaders, who are quick to cry intolerance if some thief breaks the window of a church, and are quick to blame BJP and RSS, when the nuns are raped by Bangladeshis, have kept a studied silence on the issue.

Cedric Prakash wrote an article, in which he abuses BJP-RSS but does not even name the Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The Catholic Bishop Conference of India says nothing about this atrocious conduct of Franco.

The reform in Catholic Christianity is sorely needed. It could be from within, or the government might have to step in. Hopefully, the laity and the church leaders recognize this soon.


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About the Author

Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey is an Educator based in Dehradun, currently working as Senior Staff Writer with HinduPost. He is an Engineer by training and a teacher by passion. He teaches for Civil Service Exams as well as for Common Law Admission Test. He has deep interest in politics, economy, culture and all things Bharatiya. He fancies himself to be a loving husband and doting father. His weakness is Bharatiya food, particularly sweets. His hobbies include reading, writing and listening to Bharatiya music.