Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, one of the prime witnesses who had testified against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was found dead in Jalandhar today, 22 October, reported.
According to report, Father Kuriakose had given a statement against Mulakkal to the Kerala police in the rape case of a nun from Missionaries of Jesus. His fellow brother-priests and family have alleged that he was killed for speaking against Mulakkal.
The cause of death is yet unknown.
“The sisters had approached me complaining about Bishop Franco. They did not approach the Kerala police fearing the bishop. In fact, I fear what will happen to me for speaking out against him,” he had told.
“We are very shocked to hear this news. Father Kuriakose has taught me and he was part of our parish as well. He was a crucial witness in our case as he had given statements against Bishop Franco to police. I haven’t been in touch with him but I had heard from other priests that he had been facing a lot of pressure of late, with many in the Church pointing fingers at him. We feel the circumstances of his death are suspicious and may affect our case against Bishop Franco,” Sister Anupama, who had led the protests against Bishop Franco, told.
As the demands for his arrest grew, the Vatican temporarily relieved him of all pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus.
While granting bail, the court had directed him to surrender his passport and not to enter home state Kerala except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks.>