India Christians Shocked by Brutal Murder of Local Priest

The conference of Catholic bishops in India condemned the recent murder of a Catholic priest, one of several incidents of violence against Christians in Jharkland and Orissa reported recently.
( [email protected] ) Sep 03, 2004 04:49 PM EDT

Numerous priests, religious, and faithful, as well as civil and political personalities attended the recent funeral service of a Catholic priest who had been found dead with knife wounds early Saturday morning. Meanwhile, the Catholic community of India is still in shock over the brutal murder of Father Job Chittilappilly.

“Father Job was praying the Rosary before Holy Mass … when he was attacked and knifed to death,” Bishop James Pazhayattil of Irinjalakuda told Zenit News. “Our diocesan community is profoundly affected by the incident. We don’t know who could have killed him.”

Job, 71, who served the Syro-Malabar community for 45 years, lived in the parish residence of Our Lady of Grace Church in Thuruthiparambu in the Southwestern state of Kerala.

According to Zenit, sources of the local church reported that the priests had received intimidating telephone calls some time ago, threatening with death if he did not case to proselytize.

“Father Job used to visit Hindu families, who welcomed him warmly. He did not proselytize,” Pazhayattil stressed.

Investigators say that the crime seems to be an execution, although the motive for the murder is still uncertain. Fides missionary agency reported Tuesday that nothing was touched or stolen from the parish residence.

Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Thrissur, who appealed to the police for an immediate investigation of the murder, said it was the first time a priest had been killed in cold blood in Kerala.

The conference of Catholic bishops in India condemned the attack, one of several in a chain of attacks against Christians in Jharkland and Orissa. The conference has reportedly appealed for religious tolerance and the intervention of civil authorities.

[Source: Zenit]