Jalandhar/Thiruvananthapuram: Whilst the investigation on the rape case against bishop Franco Mulakkal progresses, the Jalandhar diocese is arranging a rosary procession to pray for the rape accused. In the official WhatsApp group for the priests under the bishopric, a poster has been shared, informing the believers about the event. The poster is titled ‘‘Thyaga Sahana Japamala Yatra’ (Sacrifice Rosary Procession), and it states that it will be held on the October 14 at 5 PM at St Joseph Boys School in the city. The poster also says, “To pray for Bishop Franco, To pray for Catholic Church, To pray for Bishop Agnelo Gracias.”

According to the content of the poster, PC George, MLA from Poojar and an avid follower of Bishop Franco, will be the guest of honour at the event. Bishop Agnelo Gracias, in the capacity of the Jalandhar diocese apostolic administrator, will bless the meeting.
A group of priests had approached PC George recently for his support on the issue. A senior priest from the Catholic Church said, “Every October, the church organises a rosary prayer. It is a big feast in Punjab. In the present situation, the rosary prayer has been changed to pray for Bishop Franco."

Meanwhile, a section of priests are unhappy with the goings-on. They disapprove of the procession christened ‘Thyaga Sahana Japamala Yatra’. Sources said that a group of leaders in the Church are making sentimental appeals to garner support for the rape-accused bishop. A senior priest from Punjab said, “The church leadership is spreading messages internally that the bishop is innocent and that a group illegally arrested him. When a bishop has been put in jail, that is a big sin in the history of the Church. Some congregations have already called for a fasting prayer for Bishop Franco.” 

The Catholic Federation of India from the Changanacherry sector called in for a protest recently for the removal of every nun from the Kuravilangad convent who voiced against the bishop.