KOCHI: A Roman Catholic bishop was arrested in the south Indian state of Kerala yesterday on charges of raping a nun, police said, a day after the Vatican accepted the bishop’s request to be temporarily relieved of his duties. There was no immediate comment from Bishop Franco Mulakkal or his lawyers — though he has denied the charges in interviews in the past. Mulakkal, who heads the diocese of Jalandhar, wrote to the Vatican on Sunday asking to step down temporarily as protests and calls for his arrest grew. The Vatican accepted his request yesterday.
“He is charged with rape,” said Kochi’s inspector general of police, Vijay Sakhare. A Vatican spokesman said he had no immediate comment on the matter. The arrest comes at a time when the state’s Christian community is reeling from a string of cases — including the arrests of five priests last month on allegations of sexual assault. Their church said it believed the priests were innocent.—Agencies