18 August 2011, Pune, India: St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church in Pune’s Warje Malwadi neighbourhood was attacked on Monday. Overnight, someone entered the building and desecrated it: insulting graffiti were scribbled on the walls, religious paintings were defaced and part of the tabernacle was set on fire. Copies of the Bible and prayer books were ripped, pages strewn across the floor.
This is the first incident of its kind involving Pune’s Syro-Malankar community. Traditionally, the community has lived in peace with other religious groups, providing education, social and medical services to
Mgr Thomas Dabre, bishop of Pune and Mgr Jacob Mar Barnabas, as well
as the Pune Catholic Association and the broader Catholic community have condemned the act. They also appealed to the state of Maharashtra to bring the culprits to justice.
Yesterday, Fr Varghese Valikodath, the priest in charge of St Mary’s Parish church, celebrated a Mass to purify the building. The faithful and local priests participated in great number to the service.
More than 3,000 attacks have been recorded against Indian Churches in the past few years. Last Saturday, the glass protecting an image of Christ in St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Vashicherry, Alapuzhka, in
Kerala, was also smashed, the second attack this month.