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Nuncio focuses on church attack cases

Papal envoy follows up on independent probe into Karnataka onslaught

A Priest is reading the ‘Report of the People’s Tribunal Enquiry’ A Priest is reading the ‘Report of the People’s Tribunal Enquiry’
  • Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore
  • India
  • February 25, 2011
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The Vatican's envoy to India has taken a direct interest in a report into anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, the author, retired Justice Michael F. Saldanha, says.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio “is very keen on passing it on to the Vatican,” Saldanha said today after an Indian newspaper reported the nuncio wanted to take the matter up seriously.

Saldanha, a former Karnataka High Court judge, said the nuncio “called me personally with an official note” to enquire about his independent probe into the attacks.

The nuncio's office refused to comment.

Saldanha published his report on the 2008 church attacks on February 23. It blamed the Karnataka government and Hindu extremist groups for the attacks.

The report came almost a month after a government commission inquiry exonerated them.

Saldanha said he and Joseph Dias, secretary general of the Catholic Secular Forum met the nuncio for an hour last week.

“The Vatican ambassador requested for an extra copy of the “Report of the People’s Tribunal Enquiry” to be forwarded to the Vatican,” he added.

The former judge also quoted the nuncio as saying lay and religious organizations should write to the government about attacks on churches.

Saldanha said he also met federal Home Minister P. Chidambaram and gave him a copy of his report.

He said the minister wants Church leaders from “every corner of the country” to write to his ministry to help it take appropriate steps to prevent further attacks.

He also said his report has already disturbed pro-Hindu groups.

“There are number of questions already being asked in press conferences,” Saldanha added.

Saldanha wants his report “widely circulated” for better impact.

He said he will also submit a copy to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

He also plans to take the matter up with the European Court of Human Rights and Amnesty International.

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IB13440.1462

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