09/12/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Cardinal Gracias: The desecration of Our Lady of Lourdes, a vulgar and shameful act

by Nirmala Carvalho
The president of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police during the Idinthakarai which exploded after (peaceful) antinuclear protests in Kudankulam. Police agents destroyed two statues of the Madonna and have urinated on them.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The desecration of a church is a "vulgar, thoughtless and shameful" act "even more unacceptable" when carried out by law enforcement officers, says Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).  The cardinal condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police officers in the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the village of Idinthakarai (Tamil Nadu), in violence that erupted during the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

Two days ago, a new peaceful demonstration to stop the construction of the plant turned into a nightmare for the local community. Police opened fire on the crowds to disperse them, killing a fisherman. A 6 year old girl lost her life, crushed by the fleeing crowd. Then, some agents raided Our Lady of Lourdes Church destroying two statues of the Virgin Mary, and urinating on them (see 11/09/2012, " Police violence against antinuclear protesters: two dead and a church profaned ").

"The police - says Card. Gracias - has the duty to protect churches and places of worship, because all must be respected. Nothing can justify such an atrocious act.  It is a mark on the secular credentials of India, which challenge our national conscience. "

The local community - mostly Catholic and devoted to fishing - have been opposed to the construction of Kudankulam plant for several years. According to the people, it is not safe, and will have an impact on the environment dangerous for the lives and livelihoods of the inhabitants. For the authorities of Tamil Nadu, however, the system is safe and is the best way to make up for the energy shortage in the area. In addition, according to the government "hidden" foreign and Catholic NGOs are behind the protests, funding anti-nuclear activists. For this reason, last February the state froze the bank accounts of four NGOs, including the two headed by Msgr. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticurin (epicenter of the protest, ed.)

The President of the CBCI points out: "The Catholic Church has always expressed solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need all over India. We reaffirm our commitment to ensure economic and social justice for our fellow citizens." According to the cardinal, "true development safeguards the dignity of the human being. It is our duty to accept responsibility for each other, and the growth of India as a whole. At the same time, we must create conditions of justice and peace in which individuals and communities can truly flourish".

 

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