In the fifth such attack in the last two months, a church in South Delhi was vandalised in the early hours of Monday. The incident was reported from St Alphonsa’s Church in Vasant Kunj’s upmarket Green Avenue locality. Police said unidentified persons broke into the church between 1 and 3 am.
Father Mathew Koyickal, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Delhi, said the attack was reported when a cook at the church found the main door open.
“He noticed that the tabernacle on the main altar, directly below the main crucifix, had an object missing. The attackers had removed a chalice. The Eucharist or the Holy Communion stored in the chalice was strewn around. The adjacent room, Sacristy, where sacred vestment, clothing and other holy items are preserved, was ransacked,” Father Koyickal said, adding that the attackers took the chalice with them.
Father Prakash, a young priest who lives on the premises of the church, was alerted by the cook. “The door of the church is very heavy and cannot be opened by one person. It seems someone jumped over the walls and forcefully pushed open the door,” he said.
Immediately after, he informed his parish and police were alerted. Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deepak Mishra said the control room received a call at 5.30 am. “A case of burglary has been registered at Vasant Kunj (South) police station,” he said.
The Union Home Ministry has asked the Delhi Police for a status report on the incident as well as for details of security around churches in the city.
Meanwhile, Father Koyickal said he had spoken to Delhi Archbishop Father Anil Couto, who was in Mumbai for a meeting. Father Couto was “shell shocked”, Father Koyickal said.
Father Koyickal, however, said the attackers did not want to steal. “The only thing stolen from the church is a steel chalice. It does not cost more than Rs 200. If they were here to steal, why was the money collection box untouched? They aimed straight for the Eucharist. Police are trying to play down the incident by calling it a robbery. But it is clearly a case of desecration,” he alleged.
Echoing him, Father Vincent, the in-charge of the church, claimed the attackers had the “sole intent of desecrating the House of God and hurting our sentiments”.