Fear of returning to the convents

Five Indian religious women protesting against a bishop have asked the Kerala state chief minister for protection. The women want to stand by a fellow sister whom Bishop Mulakkal accuses of raping her several times.

As the Vatican press service Asianews further reported on Monday, the background of the request for protection is the order's leadership's instruction to return to their convents after four months of protest against the bishop, who allegedly raped a fellow sister. The religious women feared the same fate as a priest who was found dead under unexplained circumstances in late October after testifying against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The five nuns from different parts of India have been staying in a hostel near Kottayam in Kerala since the end of September. With their protest they want to support their fellow sister who lives there and who has denounced Mulakkal. They also want to draw attention to the problem of sexual abuse of women religious by churchmen. The order to four of them to return to their homes is seen by the religious as "an attempt to sabotage the trial," according to Asianews.

Mulakkal sees rape accusation as act of revenge

Bishop Mulakkal of Jalandhar in the state of Punjab was remanded in custody at the end of September on suspicion of rape. He is currently resting his office. In the meantime, he is on conditional release and has returned to his diocese in the north of the country.

The 48-year-old nun accuses the bishop of raping her several times during his visits to Kerala since May 2014. Mulakkal rejects the accusation. The 54-year-old sees the rape allegation as an act of revenge over disciplinary proceedings he initiated in 2016.

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