Church in dock as Pala Bishop testifies nun’s plaint of sexual harassment


The testimony of Pala Bishop Joseph before the investigation team in connection with sexual harassment charge against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakkal that the nun had personally complained to him has landed the Church in a tight spot. The team will now take the statement of Syro Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal Alencherry who had earlier said he had not received any formal complaint from the nun.

The Bishop testified before the team headed by Vaikkom Deputy Superintendent of Police P K Subhash who said it corroborated with that of the nun that she had personally taken up the matter with him and he advised her to lodge a complaint with the `apostolic nuncio of Vatican in India’. He also told the team that she had made no written complaint.

Police also recorded the statement of the Vicar of the Martha Mariyam Forane Church at Kuruvilangad who too said the nun had related her experience to him. The nun had told the probe team that she had submitted a complaint to Cardinal Alencherry in November 2017 and the apostolic nuncio in January.

Cardinal Alencherry had said a few days that the nun had come to raise some personal issues and he advised her to take it up with the diocese concerned. He had said no written complaint was given.

Attempts, if any, to hush up the matter were countered when Thiruvananthapuram Latin Catholic Archbishop M Soosaipakyam told media persons in Kochi on Saturday that the matter would be dealt with seriously and the stern action would be taken against the guilty. “The Church can only take a stand by siding with justice,” he said.

Meanwhile, claims of the police team going to Jalandhar to quiz the Bishop received a jolt when Jalandhar Police Commissioner went on record on a local TV channel stating that no request had been received from Kerala police.

On the contrary, after reading the news in local media, he rang up the Superintendent of Police in Kottayam to enquire about the matter and was informed that no police team had left for Jalandhar.

Separately, in the case of four priests sexually abusing a housewife under duress where two were arrested, key accused Fr Abraham Varghese moved the Supreme Court for bail. His anticipatory bail application was rejected earlier by Kerala High Court. He along with another priest is at large.

They have been accused of seeking sexual favours from the housewife after her confession of having a relationship with a priest when she was a minor.