Catholic World News News Feature
Bangalore: Catholics condemn government after church desecration September 22, 2008
More than 3,000 stunned Catholics gathered in sorrow at St. James church at Marianapalaya, a Bangalore suburb, on Sunday after the church was found desecrated.
Eighteen locks of the church had been broken by the intruders who entered in the early morning hours, broke into the tabernacle, and scattered the Sacred Species around the sanctuary. The vandals also threw vestments and other articles around the sacristy.
"This is an attempt to terrify our people," Father Joseph Menezes, the vicar of the parish, which numbers about 5,000 Catholics, told CWN. "See what they have done. It has been done by people who know what hurts our people (Catholics) most," said Father Menezes pointing to the tabernacle.
As the news of the desecration spread, shocked Catholics assembled around the church, voicing their outrage at the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governing the Indian state. Hundreds of police officers around the church were kept busy controlling the protest, with dozens of reporters recording the events.
"We have seen on TV these days churches being attacked in Orissa and other areas. But I never expected this will happen in Bangalore," lamented Sunita Vinod, a Catholic parishioner. Meanehile elderly women were standing before the closed main door of the church, praying the Rosary in reparation for the descration.
Some furious Catholics even burnt the portraits of B. S. Yeddyurappa, chief minister of the Karnataka state, of which Bangalore is the capital. Catholics charged that "inaction and encouragement" by the BJP government had led to the explosion of violence by Hindu mobs.
The desecration of the church came exactly a week after a dozen churches of different denominations were attacked in and around Mangalore, along the west coast of the state. Hindu fundamentalist groups even held a press conference to claim responsibility for that campaign of religious violence.
Shockingly, the BJP chief minister of Karnataka chose not to take action against the Hindu groups, and went so far as to rationalize the attacks as a response to the allegations that Christians were seeking to convert Hindus. Since the government issued that reaction, 15 more churches have been desecrated in different parts of the state.
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore-- who returned from a trip to Israel on September 22-- severely berated the BJP leadership. After meeting with Yeddyurappa, the chief minister, the archbishop told reporters that he had told the BJP leader that Christians are "very hurt and upset with your government."
"Desecration of the tabernacle is descration of the Body of Christ," Archbishop Moras said. "We are prepared to give our lives against this."