12/02/2014, 00.00
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Card. Gracias: Arson attack on Delhi church an attack on India's progress

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Archbishop of Mumbai comments to AsiaNews on the destruction of the church of Saint Sebastian in the capital: "The arson attack should be strongly condemned and that cannot be condoned. It threatens the development of our nation". The fire completely destroyed the altar, sacristy and choir. The chancellor of the archdiocese: "The fire was deliberately started, we found the cans of kerosene."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The arson attack on Saint Sebastian church in Delhi "must be condemned in the strongest possible. am completely shocked and deeply saddened at this arson attacks.  While I do not want to attribute communal motives, but this act of deliberate torching of a Sacred Place of worship , is completely unacceptable and cannot be condoned.  People are revolted and feel  vulnerable, whenever the miniscule Christian community  is targeted". This is how Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, reacts to AsiaNews in the wake of yesterday's destruction of the church in the eastern outskirts of the Indian capital.

The fire destroyed the altar, the sacristy and the entire choir of Saint Sebastian's. "The fire started early in the morning of December 1 - said Fr. Mathew Kojickal, chancellor of the Archdiocese of New Delhi - in different parts of the church. We found the cans of kerosene. It is arson". Immediately after the incident, hundreds of people, Christian and non, took to the streets in protest.

The church of Saint Sebastian, inaugurated in 2001 by the then Archbishop Concessao, is located in the district of Dilshad, where about 1000 Catholic families live. Many of the Christian community work in the large hospitals in the district. "I do not dare to accuse anyone - continues the Chancellor - but what is certain is that the attack was carefully planned and carried out on a place of worship of a religious minority".

The complex borders on a Hindu temple and is guarded during the night, but the guard did not notice any suspicious movement. Parish leaders denounce local police who took ten hours to arrive on site to collect clues for investigation. "We had to organize a protest in the street - said Father. Kojikhal - to convince the police to send an investigation team".

Cardinal Garcias concludes: "I request the authorities to significantly speed up  apprehending those responsible and charge them under stringent sections of the law All  Places of worship  in India must be respected in our mutli-religious society and the authorities must remain on the watch to prevent the recurrence of such traumatic incidents, which are sources of division  and destabilization of the society   and  detrimental to national integrity and the harmony of the nation. This attack on the Place of worship goes against the very progress and development of the nation"

(Santosh Digal collaborated)


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See also
Bishop of Delhi: We strongly condemn the blasphemous and hateful burning of our church
Orissa, tally following 3 months of violence against Christians
Card. Gracias: Indian Church condemns the brutal attack on Delhi clergy
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