Mumbai (AsiaNews) - An ancient crucifix in Vile Parle, a suburb of Mumbai, was vandalized and desecrated yesterday. The authors of this terrible attack remain unknown thus far, but the attack itself has shocked the local Catholic community. Speaking to AsiaNews Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) , said that " this serious act of vandalism to the Body of Christ hurts all of us, and also affects the tolerance , harmony and diversity that characterize our beloved the city. "
The crucifix dates back to 1880 and is located along the main street of the neighbourhood. According to the Santa Cruz police - who are investigating the attack - the episode occurred in the early hours of the morning. The alarm was raised by a parishioner of the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Vile Parle, which is located a short distance from the cross. The statue of Jesus was removed from the cross, and dismembered .
Cardinal Gracias said, "The way the statue of Jesus was smashed causes me great anguish: his hands were broken and thrown away, and the head has a deep crack , and only a small part of the body is still attached to the Cross". "it is indeed a very sad moment for us, especially as it is not an isolated incident, in September 2013, St. Joseph in Juhu was desecrated and looted.
While we forgive those, who have committed this act, we also pray for the perpetrator , and we pray for our city, that the Spirit of peace, harmony, mutual co existence and tolerance may prevail upon each one", the Cardinal added.
"The parishioner who discovered the incident informed me right away, parish priest Fr. Theodore Fernandes told AsiaNews. Our community is saddened by the desecration, because this crucifix has existed for generations and people of all faiths brought offerings. "
What makes the attack even sadder, the priest added, "is that yesterday 37 children were preparing to receive their First Holy Communion in our church." As a sign of respect, in the late afternoon, the parishioners took part in a procession from the church to the Cross, praying the Rosary. In addition, from now until the 21st of December parishioners recite the Rosary of the Divine Mercy at the foot of the cross. Today Cardinal Gracias will preside at a Mass of reparation.