Catholic groups say Mumbai bombings "beastly crimes"

Calling for healing and expressing solidarity with victims, Indian Catholic groups have swiftly condemned the series of train bombings in Mumbai on Tuesday which killed 200 people.

Tragedy "has struck Mumbai once again. The Church expresses her sympathy and solidarity to the city at this moment of shock, trauma, pain and suffering, and offers special prayers so the wounds wrought by the attack may be healed soon," said Bishop Bosco Penha, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Mumbai.

AsiaNews reports that Bishop Penha's reaction was among the many voices from Catholic groups condemning Tuesday night's coordinated terrorist attacks, which killed 200 people and wounded almost 700.

Bishop Bosco has been running the diocese in the stead of the archbishop, Cardinal Ivan Dias, who was recently appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples by the Pope.

The Bishop communicated "the sympathy and concern of all the bishops of the archdiocese to families, who may have been adversely affected by this trauma" and gave assurance of "special prayers, which will be said in all masses in churches in the diocese over the weekend, so that peace, calm, normalcy and stability may return."

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the bombs went off on seven trains along the western section of the city's north-south commuter train system, which carries 6 million people a day. Yesterday, investigators were combing through the wreckage of mangled trains amid suggestions the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the blasts. The group has denied any involvement.

There was a hard-hitting reaction of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, an organisation of lay Catholics in the city. In a statement, it "condemned this inhuman act" and called on the government and police to "to hound out these wretched beasts who are a blot on humanity for committing such beastly crimes."

The All India Catholic Union, the largest association of Indian lay Catholics, expressed condemnation and sorrow and said "our hearts go out to the victims, those who have suffered and who are grieving their loss."

The union chairman, John Dayal, wrote: "Innocent people were targeted in the mindless violence, which was designed to create distances between communities. We know from experience that these dark forces of fanaticism strengthen each other in disseminating hate and intolerance."

Meanwhile, in a message from Caritas Internationalis to Fr Varghese Mattamana, executive director of Caritas India, Secretary General Duncan MacLaren expressed his anger and frustration with ever more frequent acts of violence and extremism. He voiced his hope that violence would not beget violence.

"We shall pray for the victims and their families. Let us hope it does not unleash retaliation on more innocent people in India," Mr MacLaren said.

Mumbai bishop: "Stricken by tragedy, let us pray for healing of the suffering" (AsiaNews 12/7/06)
Terror trail in India's biggest city (Indian Catholic 11/7/06)

Pope calls London bombings 'barbaric acts against humanity' (CathNews 8/7/05)
Bali bishop calls for month of prayer (CathNews 6/10/05)

Benedict condemns Mumbai bombings (ANSI 12/7/06)
Caritas Decries Taking of Innocent Lives in Mumbai (Alertnet 12/7/06)

13 Jul 2006