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Church ransacked during suspected burglary in southern India

A church in the south Indian city of Bangalore has been ransacked in an incident that local police are currently treating as burglary.

The break-in at St. Francis Assisi Church, in the Bangalore suburb of Kengeri, on Jan. 20 is ‘sacrilege,’ said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore.

The intruder vandalized the sanctum, damaging the tabernacle and other artifacts. Eucharist was also scattered on the floor around the altar. The intruder is believed to have entered the church at 11 p.m. to steal the offering box.

“I am deeply disturbed, terribly shocked and also greatly grieved that this desecration was done to Lord Jesus Christ, who is present in the Holy Eucharist,” Archbishop Machado said.

The archbishop said the incident was not only a matter of “great concern for the parishioners of St. Francis Assisi Parish, as it also seriously affects the religious sentiments of all of us in the entire archdiocese, and also all the members of the Catholic community worldwide.” 

Eucharist strewn around the altar of St. Francis Assisi Church. (Photo provided)

Archbishop Machado urged priests, nuns, and laity to observe Jan. 24 as a day of reparation to praise, glorify, and worship the Eucharistic Lord in the wake of the break-in. 

“I have requested that parish priests and chaplains reveal the Blessed Sacrament for adoration … for at least 12 hours, from morning till evening, for public veneration in all the churches and religious houses of the archdiocese,” he said.

Established in 2002, the parish is situated in Kengeri, a suburb some 20km west of Bengaluru, the capital of the south Indian state of Karnataka.

A complaint has been lodged at Kengeri police station, although the perpetrator remains at large.

The Kengeri Assistant Commissioner of Police U.D., Krishna Kumar, said the incident is being treated as a burglary. It remains unknown if there was any inter-communal motive behind the crime.

Christians suffered 527 incidents of hate crime in 2019, up from 447 in 2018, according to data gathered by Persecution Relief, an ecumenical forum that records discrimination against Christians in India. The burning, vandalization, or shuttering of churches were among the attacks recorded for the year.

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