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NEW DELHI: A large number of policemen today swooped down on a
protest in Delhi against attacks on churches, and dragged activists,
including priests, into buses.

The protest outside the Sacred Heart cathedral in the heart of the
city was "unlawful", said the police, who were seen pulling women and
even children, leaving bags and shoes scattered on the road.

Father Dominic Emanuel, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic
Archdiocese, was also forced into a bus.

"What kind of justice is this? Shame on the police. The Prime Minister
speaks on everything, why not on this?" said one furious priest,
questioning overzealous action on what was meant to be a peaceful

An elderly woman activist, who lay on the road, was picked up by four
policewomen and bundled into a bus.

A disproportionately large number of policemen outnumbered protesters
outside the church. The commotion caused traffic jams in one of the
busiest commercial areas in the capital, not far from top government
offices, the Parliament building and ministers' homes.

"The people are being detained. They have no permission to protest on
the road. They can't just march to the home minister's residence. We
have to protect the residence of VIPs," said senior police officer
Mukesh Kumar Meena. He admitted there were no prohibitory orders in

Activists, some of them holding crosses and rosaries, chanted "We want
Justice" and held up posters that said: "Stop violence against

Christian groups had organized a silent march to highlight what they
called lack of serious action in recent attacks on churches. They said
they would march to Home Minister Rajnath Singh's residence.

There have been five attacks on churches since December.In the latest
incident earlier this week, the St Alphonsa's Church in south Delhi's
Vasant Kunj was vandalised. The police called it robbery.

A church in west Delhi's Vikaspuri was vandalized last month. The
police said three men caught on camera and arrested were drunk and
attacked the church on a dare.

Some Christian groups suspect a pattern of orchestrated attacks, and
say the police are undermining them.


Ref: I-a-5/CCBI-PA/276

06 February 2015

Uphold Rule of Law, Peace and Harmony

We, the 140 Bishops from across the country attending the 27th Plenary
Assembly of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI)
during February 3–9 in Bangalore, hereby express our deep anguish and
concern over increasing threats to peace and communal harmony in the
wake of various untoward incidents affecting the Christian community
in different parts of the country.

Hardly a day has passed off in recent months without reports of
attacks on Christians, Churches and Christian institutions from across
the nation. Churches have been torched even in the national capital
while reports of ‘Ghar Waspsi’ and blatant threats to hold mass
reconversions are causing anxiety to the Christians scattered in the
far corners of the nation.

Amid canards being spread and open threats against religious
minorities by belligerent groups and their leaders, even elected
representatives of people have made shocking statements brazenly
challenging the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution
of India under Article 25. (1) which lays down that: “Subject to
public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this
Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and
the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

We are distressed over divisive steps from passing of resolutions to
ban Christian practices at village level to an aborted national level
bid to keep educational institutions open even on Christmas Day. Such
concerted efforts at different levels raise concerns of a planned
program to undermine the Christian community as second class citizens
in our motherland where the community has made immense contributions
in the field of education, healthcare and social service even in the
remote hinterlands.

As citizens of this country, we have every right for ‘Equality before
Law’ guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution which mandates that
“The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the
equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition
of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of

The police manhandling of peaceful gathering of even women, children,
nuns and priests at the gate of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in the
heart of New Delhi on February 5, 2015 raises questions whether these
constitutional guarantees are not applicable to the Christian

The recurring assaults and vandalism against Christian targets in
different parts of country and failure of the guardians of law to
bring the culprits to book have only worsened the air of impunity.

The silence of those responsible for upholding our Constitutional
Rights and their failure to protect the community are indeed baffling.

It is high time for the Government - that has the bounden duty of
protecting its citizens and their rights - to enforce the rule of law
and curb the belligerence of the outfits defiling peace and communal
harmony in the nation.

Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Abp. Filipe Neri Ferrao

Bp. Varghese Chakkalakal
Secretary General
do we know whether there's been any threat to or interference with the Missionaries of Charity?
(02-06-2015, 02:18 PM)mea_culpa Wrote: [ -> ]do we know whether there's been any threat to or interference with the Missionaries of Charity?
There was an attack at Orissa at an orphanage a few years ago. 
It appears that a section of India's Catholics have broken ranks on the issue of attacks on Catholic institutions and are taking the path of appeasement.


NEW DELHI: An invitation by the powerful Syro Malabar Catholic Church
to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for a seminar in New Delhi’s Vigyan
Bhawan on February 17, 2015 has snowballed into a major controversy
that shows the stress within the small religious minority since the
Bharatiya Janata Party came into power and triggered a sharp
escalation in hate crimes in several states and the national capital.

Theologians and social activists of the influential Society of Jesus,
which runs some of the most famous schools and colleges in India, have
planned the seminar which many think has been organised to give PM
Modi an opportunity to have his say after the bad press his government
has received in recent weeks.

The invitation is being seen as a move to counter strong statements
issued in recent days by the supra-ritual Catholic Bishops Conference
of India in New Delhi, and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the
Latin Rite in their meeting in Bangalore. More than 100 bishops had
also taken out a candlelight procession in Bangalore protesting the
rise in incidents of violence and hate crimes against the Christian
community by hoodlums allegedly belonging to the Sangh Parivar.

The Christian community has been protesting against the attack on
churches in and around Delhi, questioning PM Modi’s complete silence
on the issue. Significantly following two interventions by US
President Barack Obama against religious intolerance in India, the
Prime Minister broke his silence for the first time on Friday after an
attack on a convent school Holy Child Auxilium School in Delhi’s posh
South Delhi colony Vasant Vihar. A break-in and theft as described by
the police had the PM summoning the Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi and
urging immediate action.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi's chief minister-designate, also condemned the
incident and tweeted that such acts "will not be tolerated."

Father Dominic Emmanuel, spokesperson of the Delhi Archdiocese, said,
"Certain people came at night, broke the CCTV camera, went into the
principal's room and ransacked it. Christians are being targeted."

The Catholic Church has three traditional liturgical Rites – the Syro
Malabar and Syro Malankara Catholic churches originating in Kerala,

and the Latin Rite. All three are members of the worldwide Catholic
Church with Pope Francis as its head in the Vatican. Syro Malankara
Catholicos Cardinal Cleemis, currently heads the CBCI. The Latin Rite
conference is led by Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who is an advisor
to the Pope. The Syro Malabar church has Cardinal Alencherry as the
head of its Synod.

The Modi government is smarting under strong remarks by President
Pranab Mukherjee in his Address to the Nation this Republic Day,
followed by the sharp statements by US president Barack Obama during
his Town Hall meeting in New Delhi on January 27, and his statement at
the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC that the regions
violence would “shock Mahatma Gandhi”.

The country had seen almost 150 cases of violence against the
community in 2014, and a loud campaign by the Sangh Parivar of Ghar
Wapsi and making India free of Christianity, and Islam. The national
capital had seen arson, damage and desecration in five churches in the
two months around Christmas. On 5th February, activists, Nuns and
priests were assaulted by the Delhi police who arrested them to
pre-empt a protest march to the house of Union Home Minister, Mr.
Rajnath Singh.

There was particular anger at PM Modi’s refusal to speak out on the
targeted violence against the minority community. The Prime Minister’s
gruff rebuff to a Christian delegation which called on him on the eve
of Christmas last year, was also seen in this context. Community
leaders have also alleged that intelligence agencies and the Ministry
of Home Affairs is being used to put pressure on churches and their
NGOs and institutions.

The controversy first came into the open with an email on 9 February
by Fr. Mathew Moothasseril who said the diocese of Faridabad, and
Carmelite congregations were jointly organizing a national seminar on
Challenges of Religious Life in contemporary India at Vigyan Bhawan on
17th February 2015. The seminar would be followed by a meeting in
which the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, would the chief guest.

A Jesuit provincial chief wrote to the hosts “A decision of this
nature, made without any application of mind is deplorable to say the
least. I’m shocked by the assertion, “Cardinal George Alencherry will
preside the meeting. Papal Nuncio, Archbishops and bishops will be
present.” Were they aware that Maunibaba Narendra Modi was to be
present for this meet? I salute those who have opposed this move and
have opted to stay away from this National Shamenar that adds one more
challenge not just to Religious life but to life as a citizen of a
democratic country.’

A senior professor of theology and well known author said “It is
shocking that you have invited the PM Shri Narendra Modi as Chief
Guest for a National Seminar on "Challenges of Religious Life"..... In
times when the whole Christian community is reeling under persecutions
from the Hindutva lobby and churches are being burned in Delhi and
other places, is it not insensitive if not downright stupid to be
inviting the "silent" PM and giving him the much-needed legitimacy
that he is seeking? I would request you to please withdraw the
invitation.... I am not sure whether you have the approval of the CMI
and the CMC congregations whom you seem to represent.”

Another senior priest told Fr Moothasseril “It pains and saddens me
that you and other organizers do not seem to be aware of what is
happening to the Christians and other minorities in India today. We
have just prepared a 215- pages dossier on the subject. Academics,
intellectuals and other civil society leaders have been unequivocal in
their condemnation of what is taking place. It is extremely
unfortunate that so-called disciples of Jesus specially Christian
priests and religious do not have the courage to play a prophetic role
by taking the side of truth and justice. In the larger interests of
all - you must withdraw your invitation to the Prime Minister.”

Another Jesuit, internationally celebrated as a human rights activist,
said “I am surprised to see that the diocese of Faridabad and CMI and
CMC are organising a seminar on Challenges of Religious Life in
contemporary India at Vigyan Bhawan followed by a meeting with PM. In
the midst of the attacks on churches in Delhi and elsewhere and the
gar Wapsi programmes to which PM has kept a deafening silence. I think
it is not the right action to have a meeting with him as the chief
guest.. I strongly protest against this kind of moves and gestures
which do not augur well both for religious life in particular and for
Christians in general.”

Academician and noted activist of Bangalore said the invitation to PM
Modi was “a shame on two counts. Pope Francis is speaking of a Church
of the Poor. A seminar of the type could have been arranged in the
slums or near where the poor live or an ordinary center. Why Vigyan
Bhawan? The place symbolizes values. When the venue is like that of
Herod's Palace, Herod may have to be invited to remain in his company.
Mere protests or objecting to the venue may not be enough. One may
have to refer this kind of subversion of religious life and values to
the Vatican.”

Even in the past, attempts by some church heads to cozy upto leaders
of the BJP at State and central levels of party and government have
invited a sharp response from the community.

Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church,
will deliver the presidential address at the seminar. Mr. P. J.
Kurian, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of
opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Union Finance Minister, Mr. Arun
Jaitley, and Ranchi Cardinal Telesphore Toppo are also invited.

The seminar will focus on recently canonized Saint Kuriakose Elias
Chavara who died in 1871 at the age of 66, started an indigenous
monastic life, a combination of contemplation and active ministry,
with the help of two other priests. His campaign to start a school
with every church, paved the way for spreading education in Kerala,
which now tops the country for literacy rate. The other person focused
is Saint Euphrasia, who lived between 1877 and 1952, was a mystic,
devoted to prayer.

The hosts say the Church has been part of the cultural heritage of the
nation. A press release said Indian cultural heritage is characterized
by unity in diversity. The Christian culture is certainly a
contribution to the cultural heritage if India. The press release
reiterated the Church’s loyalty to the nation, its constitution and
legitimately constituted authorities.