BANGALORE, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Indian archbishop is calling for a day of reparation to atone for vandals desecrating Christ's Body in the Eucharist.
Bangalore's Abp. Peter Machado is requesting the faithful of the archdiocese keep Friday as a day of reparation owing to the sacrilegious act committed against Christ's Body by vandals on Monday in the local church of St. Francis Assisi. After breaking into the tabernacle, vandals then profaned the Blessed Sacrament by casting consecrated hosts onto the floor. The archbishop said the act of profanation affects all Catholics:
Sacrilege and serious dishonor done to Our Blessed Lord and Savior is a matter of great concern not only to the parishioners of St. Francis Assisi Parish, but it also seriously affects the religious sentiments of all of us in the entire archdiocese, and also all the members of the Catholic community worldwide.
In a press statement, Machado noted the magnitude of the heinous act. "It is indeed a great sacrilegious act," proclaimed the archbishop.
Vandals broke into the church on Monday night. They ransacked the altar and destroyed the tabernacle. Nothing was stolen, however, according to witnesses first on the scene.
The archbishop said he was not only shocked by the incident but profoundly saddened as well.
"I am deeply disturbed and terribly shocked and also greatly grieved that desecration was done to Lord Jesus Christ who is present in the Holy Eucharist, which is kept in the tabernacle in that church," Machado remarked.
He noted this grave form of desecration has spiritual ramifications extending beyond the parish itself and thus called for an act of reparation by members of the entire archdiocese.
"In such cases," related the archbishop, "it is normal for the whole diocese to do penance and reparation in churches and religious houses for this sacrilegious and ignominious deed."
The act of atonement stipulated by Machado included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that had been profaned. It also included prayers of forgiveness on behalf of those who had committed the act of profanation.
Therefore, stated Machado, "I request you to observe Friday, Jan. 24, a Day of Reparation in the Archdiocese to praise, worship and glorify the Eucharistic Lord in a very special way. Let us also pray for those who have aggrieved Him by doing such a sacrilegious act."
The archbishop was very specific with his directive on how the reparation should be carried out. He asked for a minimum of 12 hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in every chapel of the archdiocese.
"I call on parish priests and chaplains to expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration on this day," directed Machado, "and keep it for at least 12 hours from morning 'till evening for public veneration in all the churches and the religious houses of the archdiocese."
Police are currently investigating the incident and have said they haven't ruled out any motives behind the crime. Machado says he's confident the police will diligently investigate the "heinous crime" and ascertain the true motive behind the "ignominious deed."
Acts of desecration of the Blessed Sacrament in Catholic Churches of India are not new. Vandals broke into the tabernacle at St. Alphonsa's Church in New Delhi in 2015 and similarly profaned the Eucharist by scattering it onto the sanctuary floor. That incident marked the fifth time in three months that such an act of sacrilege had occurred.
Following the incident, the archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi in a statement expressed his deep sorrow and called the act a campaign of hate: "Another act of vandalism and targeted attack on our churches in Delhi is nothing but a reflection of hate campaign and false propaganda by groups whose sole aim is to break the religious harmony and social peace of this great nation."