Madhya Pradesh, priest imprisoned without evidence: "It's a conspiracy"
Bhopal (AsiaNews) - A court in Madhya Pradesh has refused to set bail for Fr Thomas Philip, priest and rector of the minor seminary of St. Teresa, who judges consider implicated in the suicide of young Venu Kumar. The priest is also accused of trying to convert Kumar, a Hindu, to Christianity, but the Archbishop of Bhopal and local Catholics speak of a hoax, created to damage the local Church.
The accusations were launched by the father of a seminarian, Fr. Sreenivas, who told the media that he had sent his son to study at the seminary despite not being Christian. According to the man, who has travelled to Bhopal along with one of the leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad - a paramilitary movement that preaches a return to the purity of the Hindu - the suicide was due to attempts to convert operated on the boy.
But the local archbishop, Mgr. Leo Cornelio, explains to AsiaNews: "The arrest of the rector of the seminary, Fr Thomas Philip, has instilled new belief in our clergy, between the religious and faithful, who are now vigilant in prayer for the Church. In this season of Lent, as we approach the holiest week of the year, the crucified Christ is visible to our people. In our state there is an ongoing large-scale conspiracy against the Catholic Church".
Behind this conspiracy, the bishop adds, "there are right-wing nationalist forces, who try in every way to discredit the good work of the Church. But against these challenges, we continue to find joy and hope in our faith. If they have persecuted Christ, with his innocence, our sufferings are nothing. We are standing in front of difficulties, and we are called to witness with our lives. "
On the other hand, he emphasizes, "the charges made against us are always related to conversion, and always come from right wing sympathizers. These people can not see the good work the Church has made in education, health and social services; they not want to admit how we have helped generations of people, without concern for caste or creed. They make false and trumped up charges against us. But it is also sad to note that, in their rage against us, they stop serving their people".
Fortunately, the Archbishop of Bhopal concludes, "these tests do not discourage us, but rather help us to strengthen our unity. The desire to witness the truth sets us free and enables us to continue to victory. We journey towards our Calvary with the cross, to witness the resurrection. This is our task: to be witnesses of Christ's suffering. "
The prelate's statements are confirmed by a local priest, who writes: "I regret that Fr. Thomas is in jail, also because I know that the accusations against the rector to be completely false. We do not know how long he will be kept in prison, but we continue to pray for him. Without doubt, this is a period of trial for us".