Support and sympathy for a Catholic nun continue to pour in a week after a court in Kerala in India dismissed her case against a bishop.
On January 14, a judge in Kerala acquitted Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar of allegations that he raped a nun, saying the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against him.
In 2018, the nun, a former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus, accused Bishop Mulakkal of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
“When it is not feasible to separate truth from falsehood, when grain and chaff are inextricably mixed up, the only available course is to discard the evidence in toto,” read the verdict.
“In the said circumstances, this court is unable to place reliance on the solitary testimony of a rape victim and to hold the accused guilty of the offenses charged against him,” it added.
After the verdict was pronounced, Bishop Mulakkal came out of the court saying “Praise God.”
His supporters hail the verdict as a victory for the Church. The prelate reportedly offered Mass in a charismatic retreat center and visited people who had supported him.
However, the verdict sent shock and disbelief among women.
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a Mumbai-based woman theologian, said that the judgment is “a huge deterrent to rape survivors coming forward to seek justice, especially in the Church.”
“It is tremendous courage for a Catholic nun to go public about being raped by a bishop in a Church that claims its hierarchy is divinely instituted,” said Gajiwala.
In December 2021 the Supreme Court held that someone accused of rape can be convicted solely on the basis of the testimony of the survivor if she is found to be credible and trustworthy.
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