ASIA/INDIA - Statue of St. Sebastian destroyed in a Catholic church in Tamil Nadu

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 human rights   persecutions   christianity   religious minorities   religious freedom  

Coimbatore (Agenzia Fides) - Two unidentified men destroyed a statue of St. Sebastian located in the premises of the Holy Trinity Catholic Cathedral in Ramanathapuram, in the district of Coimbatore in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
As Fides learned, the incident took place on the evening of January 23. The two men arrived at the church on motorcycles.
As reported by Father Bastin Joseph, the church's assistant parish priest, one of them broke-in the gate, smashed a window, entered the church, hit and destroyed the statue, and then fled. In recent days the local community had also celebrated the feast of the saint. Father Joseph filed a complaint with the police in Ramanathapuram, who are investigating the matter using surveillance cameras, among other things. The Holy Trinity Cathedral belongs to the Eparchy of Ramanathapuram, which legally belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of the southern Indian state of Kerala.
According to the "United Christian Forum", from January, 1 to 12, 2022, at least 19 episodes of violence against Christians were registered in nine Indian states (5 in Chhattisgarh state and 4 in Jharkhand). "Nearly 500 cases of anti-Christian violence were reported in India in 2021", said A.C. Michael, Catholic lay leader and Coordinator of the UCF. According to Michael, this is the tip of the iceberg, because "many cases of attacks against Christians go unreported and are undocumented".
Commenting on the climate of violence and intimidation, Mgr. Oswald Lewis, Catholic Bishop of Jaipur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, said: "India has always been a country where every religion is respected and the followers of different religions have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries. However, in recent years, religious minorities have also been targeted, particularly Christians and Muslims, as perpetrators seek to destabilize the country's unity". He added: "It is sad to see that the Christian community, which offers service in the country in particular by dedicating itself to the poor and marginalized, has become the target of violence. In addition, the government's inaction encourages persecutors who go unpunished. The government must take effective measures to preserve the country's unity and democracy". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/1/2022)