Mumbai, Dec 27: Archbishop Oswald Gracias of the Archdioces of Bombay, deeply concerned over certain incidents affecting Christians in Orissa, has issued the following statement:
I am deeply disturbed at the unabated spate of attacks on innocent Christians, their homes, institutions and their leaders in Orissa, ostensibly perpetrated in the name of religion and caste, during this season of Christmas when the whole world welcomes the message of peace and harmony. This is a blot on the secular and democratic character of our nation. Attacking another in the name of religion has never been the teaching of any religion. It is deeply deplorable that extremists are distorting and hijacking religion for their own vested interests.
According to reports these ruthless and seemingly pre-planned activities of misguided elements are being allowed to continue with impunity. It is inexplicable that the law-enforcing authorities of the State should display inaction and inefficiency in the face of such attacks.
I appeal urgently to the Central and the State Governments to take immediate stringent measures to curb the rising tide of religious violence in Orissa. Immediate restoration of law and order and of a climate of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among all peoples is the only guarantee of safety, strength, progress and unity of our Nation.
During the first week of the New Year, special prayers for peace and harmony will be offered in all our churches.