.- After a statue of a crucifix in Mumbai was vandalized in the early hours of Monday morning, the city's archbishop has appealed for peace and prayers.
“The Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, appeals to the Christian community to remain peaceful, calm and lift up the perpetrators of this crime in prayer,” the Archdiocese of Bombay stated July 14.
“We urge the police to investigate the crime with full earnestness and to provide police protection to this sacred image.”
The historic crucifix, located on Swami Vivekanand Road near the Life Insurance Corporations building in Vile Parle West, a Mumbai suburb, was found by locals to have been attacked. The miscreants had hacked off the statue's hands.
The Archdiocese of Bombay said it was “deeply pained” by the desecration, and noted that this was the second time, in less than a year, that the crucifix has been vandalized.
“Till date no updates have been provided to the Christian community at Vile Parle or to the Archdiocese of Bombay with regards to the investigation of the previous vandalisation which took place on December 15, 2013,” the archdiocese noted, lamenting local law enforcement's slow response to the two acts of vandalism.
Bombay Catholic Sabha, a lay association of the Bombay archdiocese, has lodged a complaint with the local police station.
The crucifix, which was erected in 1880, is visited regularly by the faithful, who offer prayers and floral gifts, and is also generally treated with reverence by Mumbaikars of other religions.
A Hindu lawyer, who spoke to CNA July 14 on condition of anonymity, condemned the crucifix' vandalization, saying, “such disgusting violent trespass on a religious community or symbols of faith is highly disgraceful and demonstrates deficiency of intellectual, spiritual, and cultural sensitivity.”
He added that “the Catholics in India are generally a peace-loving and law-abiding community.”
“Progress cannot be achieved through hatred and war,” he reflected.
Laura D’Souza, a local Catholic, told CNA “we are hurt”, but added that “it’s premature, and difficult to speculate about any politics or fundamentalist forces who generally tend to use provocative means to incite communal tensions and threaten public peace.”
“We pray that peace triumphs, and hope that all communities learn to live in harmony and share a common platform for the public good.”