Goa’s response to desecrations timid: Church

The BJP-led Goa government’s response to religious desecrations and attempts by right-wing elements to provoke and divide society has been “timid and tepid”, the Goa Church said in an article.

“While the heat over some provocative statements was still on and the response of the local government timid and tepid, came a series of desecrations of religious symbols at sites located in the southern part of Goa,” the article in the latest edition of Renovacao, a Church-run periodical, said.

“These desecrations came in quick succession, leaving little time to cool down any raised tempers and with an obvious intention to provoke a violent reaction,” said Jaime Rangel, a medical professional, who authored the article.

The article comes on the heels of an ongoing confrontation between the state’s influential Roman Catholic Church and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government.

The Church is the religious and spiritual guide to over a quarter of the state’s population, which is Catholic in orientation.

The previous edition of the Renovacao had alleged similarities between contemporary Goa and India to Nazi Germany and had urged voters not to cast ballot in favour of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in the August 23 assembly bypoll.

A fact-finding report, co-authored by the Church and backed by NGO Council for Social Justice and Peace, had also accused the state government of being slack in its investigation of a series of month-long acts of desecration, in which nearly 100 Catholic crosses, graves and Hindu icons of worship were vandalised.

However, both Chief Minister as well as BJP spokesperson Nilesh Cabral responded with allegations that the campaign against the state government was a conspiracy which was orchestrated ahead of the bypolls.

Cabral at a press conference last week even “advised” Archbishop Fr. Filipe Neri Ferrao to “tone down” the contents of the Church periodical.

The recent article ‘Preserve Communal Harmony’ by Rangel now calls for a need to be vigilant against attempts to drive a wedge between religious communities in Goa.

“Despite the facts of various parties, groups and individual elements having tried to drive a wedge between various religious religious communities co-existing in Goa, the general populace has shown amazing resilience not to let anyone break the long-existing bonds of communal harmony that has seen this state stand as a shining example to the rest of the nation,” the article says.

The article also urged Goans to speak up against “sinister attempts at putting neighbour against neighbour and brother against brother”.

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