The Catholic Holy Redeemer church in Ambala, in the Indian state of Haryana, was vandalized on Christmas Day, said a report on AsiaNews on December 28.
The church, a historic building dating back to 1843, was found desecrated and an image of Jesus broken.
“The church was closed at 10.30 p.m. because of the 11 p.m. curfew,” said Bishop Ignatius Loyola Mascarenhas of Simla-Chandigarh.
“We woke up to find the statue of the Redeemer in pieces and a few broken lights,” he told AsiaNews in an interview.
The prelate said “thousands of people of all faiths” came to visit the nativity scene in the church earlier in Christmas Day.
During a “reparation service” in the church on December 26, the bishop reminded the faithful that “the wooden manger in which the Prince of Peace was born was already a sign of his crucifixion.”
“This octave of Christmas reminds us of the feasts of martyrs such as Stephen, John and the Holy Innocents,” he said.
“Now we see the same sign in Ambala as well. We are deeply saddened, but we remember the words of Jesus on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them,’” added Bishop Mascarenhas.
Father Ivel Mendanha, provincial superior of the Redemptorist congregation, told AsiaNews that the Holy Redeemer church in Ambala is “one of our earliest foundations in India.”
“In this time of light and love we feel hurt by this gesture,” said the priest.
“However, as witnesses of the Redeemer, we shall not give in to violence but will strive to offer our forgiveness and build bridges to share the love of Jesus,” he added.
Before Christmas, a church was also vandalized in the state of Karnataka.
The vandals damaged the statue of Saint Anthony in the Church of St Joseph in Chikkaballapur, a town located about 65 kilometers from Bangalore.
“This is the 40th anti-Christian attack in 2021,” said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians.
He said Karnataka “stands third in the number of attacks on Christians.”