SATAN GOT MORE POWERS TO DESTROY OUR FAITH AND HAS BEGAN TO USE THEM, BUT GUARDIANS OF OUR FAITH ARE DEEP IN SLUMBER, OR ARE THEY BUSY COUNTING MONEY?
Image Damaged by Miscreants at Vile Parle.
It is not new phenomenon that civic authorities make an attempt to demolish symbol of Christian Faith, HOLY CROSSES, and every time Lay activists have come forward to prevent BMC from doing so, while Church Authorities sleep over it. It was well known, at least to us that it will always keep on resurfacing time and again. We therefore, wrote to Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias seeking his opinion and views of the Church about HOLY CROSSES lining the street.
We have so far not received any response from them which we never expected knowing their attitude towards the issue. Coincidentally, BMC has again served notices to some of the HOLY CROSSES, but this time they have been giving a public hearing. Two such matters are reported over here, along with report in the media.
Our letter to Archbishop should enlighten you as to what we all expect from Church Authorities.
LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP
Voice OF A SILENT MAJORITY
Constuted UnderPara 29 of Christifideles Laici
(Post Synodal ApostolicExhortation ofH. H.Late Pope John Paul II)
A/7, Rodrigues Compound, Malwani Village, Malad(W), Mumbai,400095. Contact no. 98707 19628.
E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Archdiocese of Bombay)
To, 8th, June, 2014
Most Rev. Cardinal Oswald Gracias,
Archdiocese of Bombay;
Sub: HOLY CROSSES, the faith of Christianity, left neglected on the streets of Mumbai;
Do we have to draw attention of Church authorities towards the subject matter? These HOLY CROSSES have been dotting length and breadth of city of Mumbai.
These HOLY CROSSES have been target of civic authority’s hammers, time and again. We must thank our fortune that we have amongst us, activists like Adv. Godfrey Pimenta, Nicholas Almeida, Adv. Arthur D’mello, Daphne Warapen, John Miranda etc. who have come to the rescue of these symbols of Christian Faith, every time the civic authorities attempted to demolish them. In spite of the order by Supreme Court, legalizing these century old sites, BMC served notices to some of these sites in H West ward, recently. Again the activists had to go through the same process of explaining their legality to the authorities and stalling the process of demolition.
Your Eminence, it is unfortunate that Church authorities in the Archdiocese of Bombay have disowned these sites and left them at the mercy of the elements who want to erase the Christian identity of city of Mumbai. Yes your Eminence, It is not the civic authority but certain Radical Right Wing Elements of the Society are keen on achieving their goal of dismantling these symbols of Christianity. Now, with the change at the helm, could embolden these elements further. It is therefore imperative that these shrines need excessive protection from competent religious authorities like Archdiocese of Bombay.
We, as Lay Catholics, along with the activists have been doing our best to protect these HOLY CROSSES; but with change of wind, best may not be enough. Archdiocese of Bombay needs to get involved in protecting of these HOLY SITES. Only then, the Civic authorities and the other elements would be put on back foot and think twice before embarking on their mission, DEMOLITION OF HOLY CROSSES.
We, as Christians, are prepared to lay down our lives to save the symbol of our faith, the HOLY CROSS, on which Lord JESUS CHRIST was crucified. However, it is absolutely necessary that these sites are under the patronage of Archdiocesan authorities. Under such circumstances, Civic authorities will be deterred from serving notices. Miscreants will also not dare to touch them. We therefore, request you to spell out the role the Church, vis a vis its willingness to play, in protecting these HOLY SITES. If the answer is YES, then please lay down the policy for strengthening the Lay Christians who act as foot soldiers during the crises.
We hope for the positive response from you.
GREG R. PEREIRA.
HOLY CROSS HEARING: AT K/E OFFICE,
Please be infomed that we at St. John the Baptists Church Save Committee have received the attached notice from BMC K/E-Ward for personal hearing in the matter of four Holy Crosses in K/E -ward. The hearing is scheduled on Thursday 26th June 2014 at 12 noon at the office of the Assistant Municipal Commissioner at K/E Ward, Gundavali, Andheri (E).
You may also similarly receive such notices in your areas. The undersigned has all orders of Supreme Court, High Court, Affidavits filed by BMC in past for various wards in Mumbai since 2003.
St. John the Baptists Church Save Committee have filed Petitions in High Court from time to time to safeguard the religious structures belonging to the community.
We require your support, assistance and prayers in this hour of need. Kindly keep us updated of any developments in your respective wards.
With best regards
Godfrey / Nicholas —
HOLY CROSSES -HEARING: AT F/N OFFICE,
The hearing of holy crosses has started in the F/N, WARD OFFICE,Matunga,Ms. Alka Sasane the Asstn.Municipal Commissioner is in the chair.Original plans from Collectors office were shown for 3 crosses of Gowari village,Matunga. Out of 3 crosses 2 were demolished by the Municipality.1 was rebuilt with the help of MEICF. Out of 3 crosses of Wadala village,the plan of 1 was shown.2 will be shown within 2 days.Similarly the plans of the cross of St.Anthony’s chapel,Antop Hill
will be shown as the proof that the said crosses were built prior to 17th April 1965.The hearing is attended by Novel Serrao and myself.
Herbert D. Barretto,
President-Maharashtrian East Indian Christian Federation,
HINDUSTAN TIMES: 27TH JUNE, 2014
Vexed: Mumbai’s historic crucifixes under siege again
Earlier this week residents of gaothans —Mumbai’s erstwhile villages — around Andheri received notices from the municipal corporation informing them about a meeting to decide the future of four crucifixes in the area.
What surprised and angered residents was the directive asking them to produce documents to prove that the crucifixes were old structures that did disrupt vehicular or pedestrian movement. For the recipients of the notices, the incident brought a sense of déjà vu.
In the last 12 years, the inhabitants of Mumbai’s old localities have faced this issue at least four times. The first notices came in 2002 when a group called Janhit Manch filed a petition in Bombay high court seeking demolition of illegal religious shrines, many of which were part of elaborate scams to grab public land.
In September 2003 the court ordered the removal of all illegal shrines in Mumbai but the order was stayed after an application by a community group called St John Baptist Church Save Committee. The group is named after a campaign to revive a 16th century ruined church now located inside the Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone. The group was concerned that many of the centuries-old crucifixes faced destruction as they did not have documents to prove their vintage.
In December, even as citizens were working out plans to save the heritage crosses, there were fresh orders to destroy them. Community groups say the hasty order resulted in the demolition and relocation of many legal crucifixes without the shifting process getting documented.
The i ssue went to t he Supreme Court which in September 2009 said that unauthorised religious shrines, including temples, churches, mosques, or Gurudwaras should not be permitted in public areas. State governments were asked to review the legality of shrines that already existed. The Maharashtra government said it was creating a committee to look at the problem of shrines at public places.
The issue found little attention till February 2011 when notices were sent again to shrines by ward offices. St John Baptist Church Save Committee filed a petition in March 2011 following which the HC asked the civic body to follow the law while taking punitive actions against shrines.
Community groups are not opposing relocation or demolition of shrines that are illegal or obstructions in way of pedestrian and vehicular traffic but they are wondering how many times they have to prove the legality of the shrines. “How many times do we have to submit documents proving the legal status of the shrines? And how long can we protect them?” asks Godfrey Pimenta of the Save St John Baptist Church Committee which has collected documents proving the legal status of 110 crucifixes in the city. Many of these are ‘plague crosses’ dating back to the late nineteenth century when shrines were built as thanksgiving for delivering the villages from the epidemic. Others are older and have vintages dating from the 16th century when missionaries brought their faith to the villages which later became part of Mumbai.
On Thursday, when representatives of Save St John Baptist Church Committee met municipal officers in the K West ward office, the officials were told they had no powers to test the legality of the crucifixes. The reason is that in 2010 the Centre filed an affidavit in the SC saying they would create fivemember committees in municipal corporations to look into the issue of religious shrines.