The faithful show their sadness over the desecrated hosts. The parish priest is grateful to his parishioners for their prayers and to God for saving him from death. Anger is directed at police, deemed as negligent. The deputy police commissioner promises security cameras and a commitment to finding the thieves.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – More than 200 Catholics from the of Canterbury St Augustine Church, including two priests and four nuns, marched in silence and stood in prayer in response to last week's attack and looting.
The ceremony took place yesterday, promoted by the parish priest and the local congregation. Participants wore black as a sign of mourning. Some participants spoke to AsiaNews about their sadness over the desecration of the hosts (picture 3).
"The thieves not only hurt our parish priest, but also our Lord Jesus Christ", said Momota Costa, a housewife. Another Catholic, Shipra Serao, said she wept for the incident and fasted, eating only vegetables.
Fr Chanchal Hubert Pereira thanked his parishioners for their prayers and for taking part in the peaceful march. "I am grateful to God,” he said. “The thieves could have killed me, but God saved me. We continue to pray for our church and to honour the holy hosts."
Some local leaders vented their anger at the authorities. "It's been five days, and the police have not arrested anyone. I think they are neglecting to catch the thieves, "said Hamanto Corraya, a parishioner and general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA).
Corraya added that if the police fail to catch the culprits within 15 days, he will organise a protest in Dhaka, in front of the National Press Club.
Domonic Ronjan Purification said that people do not feel safe because the Christian village is undergoing industrial redevelopment, and filling up with new people who inspire fear.
In the evening, Deputy Police Commissioner Navid Kmal from Dhaka’s Uttara district visited the church (picture 4) with 12 policemen.
"We will install five CCTV cameras at the entrance to the church," he said insisting that they "are honestly trying to catch the thieves."
Canterbury St Augustine is one of Bangladesh’s oldest churches. Robbers broke into the building, tied up and beat the parish priest, Fr Pereira, ransacked the church, and broke open the offering boxes.
Twenty thieves broke in overnight on Saturday, November 26 and tied up the guards and pastor. The latter was threatened with death and had to reveal where the valuables were. In the past three years, six similar robberies of church property, and two burglaries at a convent.
The president of the Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace slams the attack in the capital. “God shall not tolerate this massacre,” he told AsiaNews. “Now it's up to the country’s Muslims. They must stand up to save their religion”. The victims include nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis, and one Indian. Full of sadness, Pope Francis “condemns such barbarous acts as offences against God and humanity”.
The target was the Holy Spirit parish in the Banani neighborhood. The officers arrest members of the "New Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh". For months, the terrorist group was rebuilding the leadership decimated by successive arrests after Dhaka massacre.
Officials have named five out of seven men who carried the terroristic attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery cafè. They belong to well-to-do local families and studied in expensive private schools; the father of one is a member of the ruling party. The Islamic State claimed the assault, but Home minister refereed to local Islamic groups.