Sectarian agenda seen in Indian church break-ins
Police are investigating two church break-ins in the southern Indian state of Kerala, which church officials suspect of attempting to offend Catholics by desecrating their places of worship.
Vandals broke into two churches in the diocese of Neyyattinkara and opened their tabernacles and threw around sacred objects used for the Eucharistic celebration, said Vicar General Father G. Christudas.
A church attendant, who came to ring the church bells on the morning of May 26, saw the broken doors of St. Antony’s Forane Church in the village of Kattakode.
He saw that the tabernacle was open and that consecrated guests were scattered around. The intruders had also entered the sacristy and ransacked its four shelves. Sacred cloths were strewn with items used for Mass such as the Bible and prayer books, the priest said.
A similar incident was reported at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a sub-parish a few kilometers from St. Anthony’s Church.
“We seriously doubt that these are just attempted thefts. A hidden agenda appears to be behind these acts, ”Father Christudas told UCA News on May 27.
Let the police investigate and establish the truth
He said the diocese had expressed their doubts to the police.
Some diocesan officials and the local population say Catholics maintain friendly relations with Hindus in the area. Some suspect that the burglaries were an attempt to destroy the peace and friendship between Hindus and Christians.
“Let the police investigate and establish the truth,” Father Christudas said, adding that he did not want to comment on the alleged agenda behind the acts.
CCTV footage from St. Antony showed four young men around 25 entering the church at 2 a.m. on May 26. They moved around damaging church items for two hours. They also took a bottle of sacramental wine from the sacristy and broke the donation box.
The parish priest, Father Vincent Robert, said that neither the parishioners nor the police could identify the vandals.
“It was raining heavily overnight, so the police couldn’t use their canine squad. However, the experts took the fingerprints of the objects, ”said Father Robert.
Also at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, vandals broke through the main door of the church to enter on the night of May 25-26.
They also broke the tabernacle and desecrated the holy armies. They also entered the sacristy and destroyed sacred objects kept on shelves and took away his only bottle of sacramental wine.
They also tried to open the donation box but left it after breaking one of its three padlocks, Reverend RP Vincent said.
I don’t think it’s a case of theft but it looks like an attempt to defile our places of worship
He said his church is a sub-parish and does not have CCTV.
“I don’t think it’s a case of theft, but it looks like an attempt to defile our places of worship,” said Father Vincent.
“If there had been a theft, they could have taken a lot of valuables from the church, but nothing like that was done.
The priest said the intruders left one of two donation boxes in his church. If they had been thieves, they would have opened the second as well, he said.
“But they have defiled our tabernacle and our holy armies and destroyed sacred objects,” said the priest.
Both churches are closed for services due to Covid-19 lockdowns.