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Aug. 29, 2021 transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal
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Date: January 23, 2022 10:45PM

Chhotebhai alleged that Giambattista Diquattro tenure, from Jan. 21, 2017, to Aug. 29, 2020, was the worst in the history of nuncios to India.

Another request to the nuncio was to act against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, who has been accused of raping a nun multiple times. Chhotebhai wanted Diquattro to protect the rape survivor and her five main supporters, who are also nuns.

He alleged that Diquattro behaved like "a white colonial master, not answerable or accountable to his subjects," while the scandals involving bishops dealt a "lethal blow" to the Indian church's credibility.

Fernandes had alerted the nuncio about several allegations of clandestine sale of land belonging to the Bombay Archdiocese. He also drew the nuncio's attention to the archdiocese allegedly providing a lawyer to defend a priest in a sodomy case.

Another person happy with the nuncio's transfer is Kochurani Abraham, a feminist theologian who accompanies the rape survivor nun and her supporters.

The member of Sisters in Solidarity, a national association of Catholic women, said the nuns had first written to the nuncio about the rape on Jan. 28, 2018. The letter was sent through Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil of Bhagalpur. As no reply came even after five months, the nuns wrote directly to heads of various Vatican offices and to Pope Francis.

As no response came from anywhere, the nuns emailed the nuncio again on June 24, 2018, seeking his immediate intervention, as Mulakkal had filed police cases against them and the rape survivor's family members. Five days later, survivor nun filed a police complaint against Mulakkal — the first case of a sexual abuse allegation against an Indian bishop.

Abraham said the survivor nun wrote to the nuncio again on Sept. 8, 2018, seeking his help, hours before Save Our Sisters, a laity movement to support Catholic religious women in distress, launched an indefinite sit-in in Kerala's Kochi city to demand Mulakkal's arrest. The rape survivor's five nun supporters also joined the protest, which lasted until Sept. 25, 2018, a day after Mulakkal's arrest.

Sr. Anupama Kelamangalathuveli, the spokesperson for the survivor and her supporters, corroborated Abraham's narration of the developments. She, however, declined to talk further as the trial in the case began Aug 13.

Abraham said the Sisters in Solidarity had requested on April 23 that the nuncio remove Mulakkal from the Jalandhar bishop's residence. "We have not received even an acknowledgement to this letter," she said.

Abraham says such behavior of Diquattro has led those "seriously seeking justice for the victims of clergy sexual abuse" to question his integrity. The nuncio's role "seemed nothing but an ornamental emblem decorating the ecclesiastical suit of the Indian church," she told NCR.

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