06/05/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Church in Bagdogra diocese desecrated

by Prakash Dubey
St Peter’s Church in Gayaganga was ransacked by a gang of thieves. The crime has caused shock and indignation. The whole community is united in showing its solidarity and in condemning the act of vandalism.

Siliguri (AsiaNews) – St Peter’s Church in Gayaganga was ransacked and desecrated by a gang of vandals Friday night. The church, one of the oldest in the district of Darjeeling, belongs to the Diocese of Bagdogra.

Sister Regina told AsiaNews that vandals entered the building at night and left with many sacred objects including a gold-platted monstrance, a holy vessel used in religious functions.

“We are shocked for what happened,” she said. “Everyone was welcome in the church. We are comforted at least by the solidarity shown by hundreds of people who have condemned the terrible act.”

On Sunday, mass was celebrated outside the church. Only after the celebration of the rituals of repentance and purification will it be possible to conduct services inside the building.

Sister Regina expects the church to reopen this coming Thursday when Mgr Thomas D'Souza, bishop of the diocese of Bagdogra, will conduct a special prayer.

“We are going to celebrate a special mass, not against the culprits but to pray so that they may redeem themselves,” the bishop said.

The local district chief, Mani Thapa, visited the church to express his indignation for what happened. He said that “those who perpetrated such a crime not only violated the sanctity of the place, but hurt the feelings of the people who benefit from the educational and social services provided by the Church around the country. They deserve the utmost penalty.”

District police Chief Indro Chakraborty told AsiaNews that “after talking with many residents of the area several elements were identified that should lead to the capture of the culprits.”

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