04/09/2018, 09.29
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Orissa bishops visit vandalized statues of Mary: Do not surrender to the forces that divide

The Christian places attacked during the Easter Vigil. Episodes in the district of Sundargarh. The delegation was led by Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, general secretary of the Episcopal Conference. "A systematic plan to ruin peace".

Sundargarh (AsiaNews) - A delegation of Indian bishops went to the Christian places of worship vandalized over Easter in the district of Sundargarh, in Orissa. The prelates were welcomed by a crowd of priests, nuns and local faithful. On behalf of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), the bishops expressed their closeness to the Catholics of Orissa and prayed together for "the forgiveness and conversion of those involved in these reprehensible crimes".

The visit took place on April 7. The delegation was led by Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Cbci general secretary; accompanied by the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Msgr. John Barwa, who is also president of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Orissa (OCBC), Msgr. Kishor Kumar Kujur, of the diocese of Rourkela, and other bishops.

The ecclesiastical representatives went to the church of Saint Thomas in Salangabahal, where unknown criminals mutilated the statue of Our Lady and decapitated that of the Child Jesus in the grotto in front of the church. Then they visited the village of Gyanpali, where another grotto was vandalized, and the Church of the Victory of the Cross in Bihabandh, which the attackers tried to burn.

The joint communiqué issued by the bishops reads: "It seems that it is a systematic and premeditated plan to disturb the peace of the population that has lived here in harmony for some time. It seems that anti-social elements want to hit the sacred places of two communities in an attempt to create sectarian divisions".

The bishops expressed gratitude for the timely intervention of the police forces that ensured the safety of the areas and offered protection to all the churches in the district. They also thanked the population of the villages, who did not surrender themselves to actions of revenge or reprisal.

"We urge you - invite the prelates - not to surrender to the forces that create division". In conclusion they reiterate "that these incidents against places of worship should not happen and are a source of shame and pain for us. At the same time we are proud of the people of Sundargarh District who have shown that we are capable of fighting the forces that want to divide us and polarize us".

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