Maharashtra, church desacrated in Vasai diocese
Act of vandalism against the parish of St Gonsalo Garcia. While the police carried out the investigation, people gathered outside the gates to pray. Archbishop Felix Machado: 'I urge everyone to maintain harmony in the neighbourhood and apregate for peace in Indian society.
Vasai (AsiaNews) - Just a few days before Independence Day - which in India is celebrated on 15 August - a vandal attack hit the Church of St Gonsalo Garcia in Vasai, in the State of Maharashtra.
In the late afternoon of Friday, 11 August, parish priest Fr Peter Almeida entered the church and found it devastated, with a work of art on the altar destroyed, the statue of Our Lady thrown to the ground and damaged, the cathedra and baptismal font displaced, and all the books scattered on the floor.
"We filed a complaint with the police station in Vasai," Fr Almeida tells AsiaNews, "which came immediately. Asking us not to touch anything, I cancelled the Friday evening Mass and sent a message to the faithful. Our people, however, gathered outside the gates, began to pray and many were crying. Everything was then restored and from Saturday we resumed the celebrations."
Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai issued an official statement condemning the incident. "I am aware of the wound caused to the religious sentiments of the Catholic faithful of the parish and diocese of Vasai."
He continued: "I have been in contact with the Commissioner of Police and I can assure you that under their able leadership the police department is fully committed to the investigation; I urge you to maintain peace and harmony in our neighbourhood, and I also urge you to refrain from suspecting or blaming anyone in particular, or engaging in spreading rumours on social media or making unfounded statements in public. Above all, I implore you to pray for harmony and peace in society."