Catholics protest in Andhra Pradesh over the demolition of St. Peter’s cathedral

Municipal authorities in Vijayawada have attempted to demolish the church overnight. The next day they returned to complete the work, but clashed with the faithful. The cathedral dates back to the 19th century and is of undisputed cultural and artistic value. Some protesters arrested and then released

Vijayawada (AsiaNews/Agency) - The Vijayawada authorities attempted to demolish a portion of ancient St. Peter’s cathedral at Tarapet, in Andhra Pradesh, but were blocked by priests and parishioners who defended their church.

The incident took place on July 31 night, when the authorities came at the spot to demolish the church and widen the road. The next day corporation staff returned to the site to complete the demolition process, but was stopped by the protest of hundreds of Catholics, supported by members of opposition parties. They wondered why the corporation failed to serve a notice on church authorities before embarking on pulling down the structure.

Local sources said Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (Vmc) officials and workers came with earth-movers and demolished a wall and a complex adjacent to the church, built 100 years ago. Catholics opposed the move arguing that the alignment of the road should have been changed as the religious structure, which was built some time in the middle of the 19th Century, has a historical significance.

“Taking the shrine’s history and prominence into consideration, Vmc officials should leave the structure untouched. They carried out the demolition without informing the church authorities or serving a notice,” said Samuel, a member of the church.

The church management alleged that the officials have insulted Catholics by damaging some idols at the cathedral during the demolition work.

The police intervened to put down protests, took a few agitators into custody and released them later. At the moment a police picket has been arranged at the place.