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'Devil worshippers' attack church

Police launch hunt after Syro-Malankara sub-station vandalized

Vandals desecrated a Syro-Malankara Catholic church in Pune on August 15, burning the altar Vandals desecrated a Syro-Malankara Catholic church in Pune on August 15, burning the altar
  • India
  • August 17, 2011
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The desecration of a sub-station of a Syro-Malankara Catholic church in Maharashtra state on Monday could have been the work of devil worshippers, Church officials said yesterday.

Several people “broke into our church in Warje Malwadi in the small hours on Independence Day, vandalized the altar, burnt the tabernacle, as well as tearing up the Bible and prayer books,” said Father Varghese Valikodath, who is in charge of the church in Pune.

The Holy Eucharist was not kept in the tabernacle as priests don’t reside there, said Father Valikodath, who is also the parish priest of St Mary’s Malankara Church in Khadki, in Pune.

Police investigating the crime have launched a manhunt for the culprits.

According to Father Valikodath, the alarm was raised at around 6:30am on Monday by the secretary of the church, who found the front door, terrace door and windows broken open.

Paintings of Jesus, Mother Mary and other saints were vandalized and the words “Satan is God” were written on the walls and some of the paintings, he said.

The priest said robbery was not the motive as collection money and valuables were not stolen.

“It could be some devil-worshipping group,” he said.

Yesterday, a Holy Mass was celebrated, purification prayers were said and the premises were blessed, Father Valikodath said.

Local Catholics were quick to condemn the vandalism.

“This is the first attack on the Catholic Church in Pune and we condemn the desecration of a place of worship,” said Diago Almeida, president of the Catholic Association of Pune.
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