Bishop acquitted of raping nun resigns as leader of Catholic diocese in Indian city

NEW DELHI (AP) — A bishop acquitted of raping a nun resigned as leader of the Catholic diocese in an Indian city on Thursday.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of 59-year-old Franco Mulakkal, who was bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese in the northern state of Punjab.

The Vatican did not provide a reason for the resignation or why Francis accepted it. The normal retirement age for bishops is 75.

The nun accused Mulakkal of raping her multiple times during his visits to her convent in Kuravilangad in Kerala state, in a case that became a major issue amid allegations of sexual abuse in the church.

Police charged Mulakkal with rape, illegal confinement and intimidation of the nun. A group of fellow nuns launched unprecedented public protests demanding Mulakkal’s arrest in 2018. He was detained and soon released on bail.

A court acquitted Mulakkal in January last year. The nun has appealed the verdict to Kerala’s High Court.

Mulakkal was the official patron of the nun’s community, the Missionaries of Jesus, and had influence over its budgets and job assignments.

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