Gulf News India
Published: 13:51 July 29, 2018
Thiruvananthapuram: The troubles of Kerala’s Catholic Church multiplied over the weekend with a priest caught on tape attempting to influence a nun to withdraw the ongoing case pertaining to sexual abuse by the Jalandhar bishop, Franco Mulakkal.
A nun at the church’s convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district had accused the bishop of sexually abusing her as many as 13 times. Bishop Mulakkal has denied the allegation and police are yet to question the bishop.
Following the nun’s accusation, a number of other nuns and even a few priests raised allegations against the bishop and the manner in which such complaints are swept under the carpet by the church authorities.
In the latest twist to the case, a Catholic priest, James Aerthayil has been caught on tape speaking to one of the nuns supporting the victim, asking her to withdraw the case against the bishop.
In the telephonic conversation, Aerthayil is heard to be advising, pressurising and even issuing veiled threats in an attempt to coerce the nuns to withdraw the case.
During his conversation with one of the nuns, he says the church is “willing to purchase a 10-acre site and establish a convent in which you can be secure”, and says the location could most likely be in Erumely or Ranni, falling under the diocese of Kanjirapally.
The priest even reminds the nun of a Malayalam saying that “you can jump into a well in anger, but nothing can get you out of there”.
However, the nun is heard curtly telling the priest that she and her colleagues had no intention of withdrawing the charges against bishop Mulakkal.
Reports indicate that Aerthayil, who had not been associated with the convent in Kuravilangad where the aggrieved nuns are, has been to the convent thrice in the last few days.
In another case of sexual abuse, the crime branch has charged four priests from the Orthodox Church in Kerala of sexually abusing a married woman. The victim said the priests had misused information from her confessional to blackmail and sexually abuse her.
The sex abuse allegations in Kerala churches coincide with a call by Boston cardinal Sean O’Malley to the Vatican to “swiftly and decisively” adopt strict policies for cases of sexual abuses by clergymen.
Gulf News India
Kottayam, Kerala: A nun, who accused a Roman Catholic bishop in south India of sexually assaulting her, said on Saturday that she would go ahead with legal action against the top priest.
The nun told reporters in Kottayam district of Kerala state that she would go ahead with legal action against the bishop, but declined to speak further on the matter.
In her complaint to the Kottayam district police chief, the nun has alleged that the bishop of Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church had sexually abused her multiple times at a small town near here four years ago.
She alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse 13 times.
She has said that she was abused for the first time in 2014 at a guest house near an orphanage in Kuravilangad region in the district.
The nun claimed that she had then complained to the church authorities about the abuse, but no action was taken.
The victim said the unfavourable approach of the Church authorities towards her grievances forced her to lodge a police complaint in the matter.
Supporters of the bishop have rejected the charges against the prelate.
They said the nun filed the police complaint after a priest, who is also an official of the Jalandhar diocese, lodged a complaint with police against her relatives on the charges of threatening the bishop.
In his complaint, the priest has alleged that the relatives of the nun threatened to kill the bishop after he ordered a probe against her on the basis of a complaint by the wife of a person.
Based on the complaints of the nun and the priest, the police have launched an investigation.
A Deputy Superintendent of Police-ranking official is probing the case, police said.
The priest, a Keralite, has been serving as bishop of Jalandhar diocese since 2013. There was no immediate reaction from the Church authorities on the allegations.