Telengana: Church Vandalised, Catholic Bishops Call for Protection of Religious Places

'We are Worried about the way things are taking a turn in the country,' says bishops conference official.

Broken statues and furniture lay strewn across the floor after vandals broke in to Our Lady of Fatima Church in Telangana State May 13.

New Delhi:  The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has appealed to political leaders to protect places of worship of all communities, days after a Catholic church was damaged and statues desecrated in southern India. A mob of more than 100 people attacked the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Kundapalli village of Telengana State May 21. They broke statues of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, a crucifix and damaged furniture in the newly constructed church that was blessed by Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad on May 13.

"We are a little worried about the way things are taking a turn in the country. We are not blaming the government but somehow some of the fringe elements seem to feel empowered and this is not a good thing for the country," Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the bishops conference, told

"We appeal to our political leaders to ensure that religious places of all communities be protected and that the right of every citizen and community to worship God according to their belief be protected from unruly elements," the bishop said.

"Everybody needs to respect each others' religious sentiments. Why go and damage somebody’s religious place?" he asked. "These types of acts bring shame and disrepute to our beloved country and its peace-loving citizens of all communities. The incident is against the free practise of religion in our country," Bishop Mascarenhas said.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Bala called on parishes, clergy and laypeople in his archdiocese to conduct and take part in spiritual activities such as eucharistic Adoration, the recitation of the Rosary, fasting and a ritual cleansing and washing of the damaged church.

"Reparation is required as the church has been desecrated and the dignity of the chapel and holy things need to be restored," Archbishop Bala told

Christian leaders have often blamed such attacks on extremists, who they alleged have become emboldened since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. The BJP, part of a collection of groups seeking to make India a Hindu country, has also been criticized for remaining silent about a spate of mass conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

According to the Indian Christian Persecution 2016 report, some 12,000 Christians that year experienced persecution, including murder, detention, assault, rape and harassment.

The report states that 10 people were killed and over 500 clerics or community leaders were attacked for their faith during the year.
During the first 100 days of the BJP government, more than 600 incidents of targeted violence against religious minorities took place in different parts of India, according to the Minority Report on 100 days of Modi Governance, released in September 2014. Narendra Modi is the Indian prime minister who heads the BJP-ruled federal government.

Statistics from the 2011 census show that India has 1.2 billion people. The percentage of Hindus has slightly dipped from 80.5 percent in 2001 to 79.8 percent 2011. While Christians remained at 2.3 percent during that period, Muslims have increased by just over one percent, to 14.2.



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