Bishops condemn rise in communal violence, appeals for peace

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New Delhi: Condemning the growing communal violence in the country, the Catholic Church in India has appealed to the people to “rise above religion, caste, language or region and to unite in promoting peace, harmony and ‎brotherhood.”

In a statement issued on July 11, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said ‎ the “lynchings, killings, terrorist attacks in recent times are frightening and worrying.”

The bishops stated the militant attack on Hindu pilgrims returning from Amarnath shrine in Kashmir on July 10 was “dastardly and cowardly”. Seven pilgrims were killed and 12 were wounded as the bus they travelled got caught up in a gun battle between the militants and police near the town of Anantnag.

“This last attack is another sign of the flames of violence that seem to be unfortunately engulfing the country,” said the statement signed by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, CBCI Secretary General.

India has been struggling to restore normalcy in Muslim-majority Kashmir region where militants have been fighting the government. But the militants mostly spared Amarnath pilgrims, even during the most violent phases of their 28-year armed revolt.

The CBCI statement also condemned the recent incidents of mob lynching by cow vigilantes. Over the past two years, there have been several incidents of lynching of Muslims in India over allegations of consuming beef.

“We have been equally shocked and saddened by the lynching of human beings by mobs,” the statement said, further adding, “Violence (in whatever name) be it the name of animals or of God or of religion is appalling and unacceptable.”

The bishops also condemned atrocities against dalits, tribals and other weaker sections. “We condole the death of so many innocents and pray for God’s comfort to their families,” they said.

The Church also expressed concern over “communal violence that is being fanned in parts of West Bengal and other areas in the country.”

“Our beloved country has been known for its traditional peace and harmony. Though there have been times when we have seen unimaginable violence, death and bloodshed, our society has bounced back to peace and brotherhood,” the statement said.

On behalf of the Indian bishops, Bishop Mascarenhas appealed “to all concerned to restore peace and communal harmony in our society.”

“A nation cannot progress if it divides itself on the basis of caste, creed and religion,” he said. “Violence brings death and destroys lives and families. We cannot risk the future of our children, our youth and our country for narrow political gains or for one-upmanship.

Source: CBCI/Vatican Radio