Goa priest murdered after speaking against inter-faith violence

The Archdiocese of Goa, India, has condemned the murder over the weekend of Fr Eusebio Ferrão, a strong critic of inter-religious violence.

"Deeply pained and anguished, we condemn the cold blooded murder of a diocesan priest of Goa, Fr Eusebio Ferrão", the Archdiocese of Goa statement said.

"We appeal to the concerned authorities to take urgent and concerted measures to catch the culprits of this vile act at the earliest.

"We ardently pray for our brother, who always spoke about peace throughout his mission, so that he may enjoy the eternal abode of our Heavenly Father," the satement said.

According to AsiaNews.it, the priest died of suffocation with a pillow, but the perpetrators and the circumstances of the murder are unknown.

According to some witnesses, two men from Uttar Pradesh turned up outside the parish house on the night of 17 March and asked for a place to stay. Fr Ferrão welcomed them, fed them and gave them a place to stay. Police is now searching for the two men.

The motive for the killing is also unclear. Some of Fr Ferrão's parishioners said the priest's work for peace may have something to do with it. Fr Ferrão often used to draw attention to inter-religious violence in the area, writing in a local newspaper.

Goa is an area known for peaceful coexistence between members of different religious communities. However, recent times have seen an increase in sectarian violence.

Many Catholic churches, chapels and crosses have been desecrated and insults levelled at members of the local Catholic community - who are told to "go back to where they came from" - have become common.

Murdered: Goa parish priest who spoke out against inter-faith violence (AsiaNews.it 20/3/06)

Hindu militants smash cross, threaten nuns (CathNews 25/1/05)

Brutal murder of Fr Eusebio Ferrao (Goa Herald 20/3/06)
Priest found murdered in Goa (Catholic World News 20/3/06)
The Guest Killers (The Navhind Times)
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John L. Allen: Oswald Gracias of Agra, India (National Catholic Reporter 17/3/06)
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21 Mar 2006