MORAPAI, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - The epidemic of anti-Catholic desecrations, which in recent years has infected France, Italy, Spain, Poland the United States and other Western nations, has now reached India.
On Nov. 28, statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Teresa of Calcutta, located in grottos outside the Church of the Sacred Heart in Morapai, West Bengal, were destroyed by unknown vandals.
Local Church authorities reported the defilement to police, who assured them they would arrest the perpetrators. But, as of yet, none of the attackers have been found.
Bishop Shyamal Bose of the diocese of Baruipur, where the Church of the Sacred Heart is located, told Church Militant, "A total of three statues were attacked. One statue of Mother Mary in one grotto and two statues, one small and one big, in another grotto were totally destroyed."
The three grottos, he noted, were installed by individual Christian families for public reverence.
In the wake of the sacrilege, Bp. Bose said he was heartened by an outpouring of support from the wider Morapai community.
"Three replacement statues were installed on the evening of Nov. 30," he noted. "Hundreds of people, including people from other Christian denominations and from other faiths, gathered during the installation ceremony, which included two priests, a deacon and multiple religious sisters. Police and two members of the legislative assembly were also present."
Bose said the culprits tried to vandalize other statues but did not succeed.
Bishop Bose and the diocesan vicar general, Fr. Kanuj Roy, visited the Church of the Sacred Heart to take stock of the situation. There, the bishop expressed concern about the attack, viewing it as an assault not just on Christian symbols but on Christians themselves.
Attacks of this sort are becoming increasingly common in India, where 80% of the population is Hindu and just 2.3% Christian.
From Sept. 1–Dec. 2, 76 episodes of anti-Christian violence against people and sacred objects were reported across the country. From January to November 2020, there were some 250, according to the United Christian Forum (UCF).
Rohit Mark, a convert from Hinduism to Christianity, told Church Militant that radical Hindus are behind such attacks on India's Christian minority.
"New believers like myself, we are always under pressure by Hindu fundamentalists. Our lives are even threatened. Most of the time, anti-Christian criminals don't face punishment," Mark said.
Persecution of Christians in India is increasing sharply. In 2017, Open Doors ranked India as the 15th most dangerous country for Christians — up from 31st just four years earlier.