06/22/2017, 15.28
INDIA
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For Bishop Menamparampil, vandalism against Catholic cathedral in Assam has hurt and raised concerns among Christians

The cathedral is in Bongaigaon. Diocesan authorities have called for calm and organised a prayer vigil for peace and harmony. The pyx was stolen, and the tabernacle broken. For Sajan K George, the "robbery is a way to offend [Christian] religious feelings”.

Bongaigaon (AsiaNews) – The Catholic cathedral in Bongaigaon, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, was vandalised by persons unknown overnight on 20 June, this according to the Assam Christian Forum.

The attackers broke the tabernacle that contained the sacred hosts. For diocesan authorities, it seems to be a case of theft. The thieves, they said, "stole the intention box, which might have been mistaken for the donation box.”

Mgr Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop Emeritus of Guwahati, told AsiaNews that it appears to be a case of attempted robbery.

"The Christian community is deeply wounded and feels humiliated,” he said. “Now some Christian groups in the region are concerned. Church leaders have appealed for calm and harmony among communities."

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), is not convinced. "I do not think we can call it a simple robbery,” he said. “The frequency of anti-Christian hostility is increasing, causing communal tensions”.

Church authorities have filed a First Information Report with police which came yesterday to gather evidence.

Allen Brooks, spokesman for the Assam Christian Forum, said that the local Church has decided to organise a prayer vigil for harmony and peace. "The incident has struck everyone,” he noted. “Christians in the state are under shock and are afraid."

For this reason, a call has been issued to the chief minister to take appropriate measures to maintain communal harmony.

Along with the intention box, the robbers "stole the pyx, knowing that it was worth something," said Mgr Menamparampil. “They also took ciborium, but then discarded it.”

According to the diocese, the area where the act of vandalism occurred is inhabited mostly by tribal and without sectarian people.

"The surrounding area is not inhabited by groups that could be called anti-Christian or anti-minority," the archbishop emeritus explained.

According to Sajan K George, the "robbery is a way to offend [Christian] religious feelings. The thieves know very well what is sacred to the Christian community."

"The GCIC firmly condemns this attack on their faith,” he added. “Christians are considered a soft target and some vested interests are using their vulnerability to make them feel insecure."

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)

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