Kathmandu: Catholic priests receive death threats

| August 5, 2009

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Many Catholic priests have received grave threats from unknown callers claiming to be Hindu fundamentalists, urging them to leave the country “as soon as possible”.
Fr Pius Perumana, who runs the Vianney pastoral centre in Godavari, told AsiaNews that in recent days strangers called him on the phone and told him that he had “a month to leave Nepal if I did not want to face grave consequences.” But “there was no other demand like money.”

The priest filed a complaint against person unknown but the authorities did not provide any protection to the pastoral centre.

The unknown voice said that he belonged to the Nepal Defence Army, an extremist Hindu group headed by one R.K. Mainali, who is a suspect in the murder of Fr John Prakash and the bombing of the Church of the Assumption in Kathmandu on 23 May. A woman member of the group was arrested in connection with the blast.

Fr Benjamin Pampackel, superior at the Dom Bosco School in Lubhu, also received a threatening night time phone call on 20 July.

The gatekeeper who was on duty that night picked up the phone and was told that anyone in the service of Christians could lose his life. The man was traumatised by the experience.

Fr Lawrence Manivar, who works at the St Xavier School, told AsiaNews that a stranger claiming to be from the Nepal Defence Army “warned me either to leave Nepal or face death”. The clergyman added that the caller told him that they wanted “Nepal to be Hindu and all Christians to be chased away.”

Chirendra Satyal with the Catholic Media Office said that “we don’t know who the callers are” but added that they should not be underestimated.

Fr George Padingarakudyil is the parish priest at the Church of the Assumption, the same one that was bombed back in May, causing death and destruction (pictured).

He said that although he had not received any threats, since the blast his church was under constant surveillance by armed police.

In spite of the situation “the number of regular church goers has not decreased that much because of their faith;” in fact, “many are actually getting over the trauma through faith.”

Mgr Anthony Sharma, vicar apostolic of Nepal and titular bishop of Gigthi, urges prudence. He said that he had not received any threats but that each incident was being reported to the authorities.

Still concern among the faithful remains high, now more so since Protestants have begun receiving threats and started their own investigations to find those responsible.




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Category: Church Security

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