Damaged tabernacle lies in the street outside St Thomas Church in Taherpur, India. (Photo: ucanews.com)
Police in eastern India have launched an investigation after a Catholic church was broken into and Eucharist desecrated late July 9.
The main door of St Thomas Church in Taherpur in Krishnagar diocese was locked when the church watchman arrived to open it in the morning.
"He and parishioners who came for morning prayers found the tabernacle missing," Father Satish Makhal, assistant parish priest, said.
"After a short search they found the tabernacle in the church compound. It was broken opened and the consecrated host was strewn around," he said.
Nothing else was missing, Father Makhal said.
Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes of Krishnagar said Church officials don't have much details of the incident. “But we know police is investigating the case. Only after investigation can we would know the reasons."
This latest case is about 30 kilometers from where an elderly nun was recently raped in Ranaghat convent.
Police have arrested six men, all migrants from Bangladesh, and filed charges against eight people, including two in absentia. The charges include robbery with attempt to cause death or grievous harm, criminal conspiracy and gang rape.
The bishop couldn't say if the two incidents were connected.
Criminal gangs are operative in the area according to police but Bishop Gomes said church institutions were not their targets. "In the past five years, this must be the fifth such incident," he said.
He also ruled out sectarian hatred in the parish area of the 70-year old church, where some 300 Catholic families live alongside 1,000 Hindu families. "There is no history any communal tension in the area. They all live in peace and harmony," Bishop Gomes said.
Church officials see this as part of the ongoing attacks Christians in India, which has increased dramatically after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in India in May 2014.
"The repeated attack on the churches and missioners is a grave concern," said Father Joseph Chinnayan, deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.
There were more than 200 cases of attacks against Christians, more than 170 against Muslims and more than 230 reported hate speeches leveled against the two communities in the last year, according to report released in May by a group of rights activists.