Chief Minister Apologises to Cardinal for Mumbai Cross Demolitions

Cross demolished in Mumbai, 4 March 2011.

MUMBAI – Thousands of Catholics led by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop and President, Catholic Bishops Conference of India prayed at Cross Maidan, and then protested at a rally against the demolition of 3 Crosses, one believed to be in existence since 1936 in Byculla-Mazagaon area of the city. This despite the chief minister and the municipal commissioner giving Christians a 15 day time frame to produce documentation on the crosses.
Cardinal Gracias informed that the Chief Minister had called him and apologised for the acts of desecration, even as yet another Cross was demolished and since notices were pasted on the Crosses themselves. Cardinal said he was hurt, embarrassed and angry at the developments and would meet the state Chief Minister on the issue. He said that such disrespectful behaviour by the municipal corporation was shocking and had given the BMC a bad name internationally, as it was not expected from Mumbai.
Bishop Percival Fernandez said he shared the strong sentiments and concern of the Cardinal at the developments in the metropolis.
“Various state governments are demolishing religious structures, following a Supreme Court directive, which seems giving a communal colour to the demolition drive, with Christians being selectively targetted”, said Joseph Dias, general secretary, The CSF, which organised the protest. He added that there was no political will to deal with the issue and there was a strong possibility of it being a ploy to polarize votes on communal lines before the municipal polls due in a year. He also pointed out that the behaviour of the municipal and police officers, who did not spare women, children and senior citizens, gave the impression that communal Hindutva forces had infiltrated these administrative areas too, besides the bureaucracy.
Joseph Dias said that “the West Bengal government had filed an affidavit that action to remove them may have adverse impact on law and order situation and hurt the religious sentiments of the people. No State government has given any time bound framework to manage the structures. From the affidavits, it appears that none of the state secretaries have taken solid measures to abide by the Supreme Court order.Only states of UP, MP, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat have filed their affidavits.
Further, Delhi had reported at 52 only reported the least of such objectionable religious structures. Sikkim, Mizoram and Nagaland had no such religious structures in public places.”
The CSF called for a policy from the Union and State Governments, after seeking SC clarifications and announced as part of their future plans, an inter-religious rally at Azad Maidan – if the State Government did not act on its demands.

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1 Comment

Filed under Catholic Church, Demolition of Crosses in Mumbai, Human Rights

One response to “Chief Minister Apologises to Cardinal for Mumbai Cross Demolitions

  1. The Christians in Mumbai are setting a trend to the rest of the country in democratic action to fight for their rights.
    The support and participation of the Church leadership and clergy and religious endorsing this fight to save the crosses is commendable.
    I am reminded of the mobilization of Catholics in Poland in the height of Communist oppression under the leadership of the Primate of Poland. Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński (1901 to 1981). What we are seeing is ominous portends…. Pls chk the link for the story.

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