Mumbai Catholics choose persecution as Good Friday theme

A handful of traditional walking pilgrimages on Good Friday will be based on the theme

Mumbai – Following incidents of vandalism of churches and the rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal, the dominant theme on Good Friday in churches across the city will be the sense of insecurity and persecution among members of the community.

A handful of traditional walking pilgrimages on Good Friday will be based on the theme, as is an editorial for the Holy Week in the Catholic community’s mouthpiece.

In Santacruz and Vakola, banners and hoardings highlighting the church attacks across the country and the gangrape of the nun are being prepared by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), in what is perhaps one of the most emotional and political Holy Week campaigns in the city.

The Catholic group organizes a walking pilgrimage every Good Friday, the traditional ‘Stations of the Cross’, an enactment of Jesus Christ’s last hours before the Crucufixion. Devotees will this time carry posters and placards calling for awareness on the instances of attacks on churches and the clergy, The Indian Express reported.

“The focus will be on ‘persecution’. Our tableaux on the stations of the Cross will be done with information about the church attacks,” said Joseph Dias, president, CSF.

“There is a sinister design behind these attacks and they are not isolated burglaries or desecration. The pattern shows that these attacks are planned. Christians are considered soft targets. If holy places of other faiths were attacked in this manner, the country would burn. Why shouldn’t we protest? The least we can do is be on the streets and show that these attacks will not be tolerated,” says Dias.

The pilgrimage will start at 10.30 am and go on till 3 pm from Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz, to St Anthony’s Church, Vakola. Meanwhile, The Examiner, the mouthpiece of the Bombay Archdiocese, carried an editorial about the attacks.

“Fanatic religious fundamentalism and unfettered economic greed must be confronted and defeated, but our own complicity in violence and injustice must be recognized, so that we do not succumb to demonization…,” it read.

At the same time, former president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha Dolphy D’Souza has alleged that National Minorities Commission, which is in the city, has not held meetings with Christian groups despite the recent attacks.

The Commission met the Archbishop along with members of the Syro Malabar Clergy and other Catholics in the Archdiocese of Bombay Office to discuss issues of concern and allay fears in connection with the recent attacks against minorities.

“The Archbishop conveyed how that community was sad about the tardy response to the attacks by the administration across the country. It saddens us that one segment makes accusatory statements against the community and its clergy and blame us for conversion. It takes a person one year of training and an affidavit to become a Christian, if not born one, so we cannot be blamed for mass conversions and are not responsible for fringe Christian groups making statements calling for conversion. The church does not promote such people,” said Fr Anthony Charanghat, spokesperson of Archdiocese, present at the meeting.

“The commission said they would convey our concerns to the government but cannot enforce anything,” he added.

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