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ASI has 'no funds' to protect five centuries old Goa church, a World Heritage Site

Counterview Desk
The century-old All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest Laity movement in Asia, has blamed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for neglecting the historic Bom Jesu church by keeping its ceilings  open to the vagaries weather, with no steps  taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds".
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AICU simultaneously asks the Government of India to devise a "comprehensive" national social security safety net, universal health Insurance and medical Infrastructure so that the “calamity” that has befalenl millions of migrant labour and jobless rural and urban poor in “the Covid pandemic-driven lockdown is “never repeated.”
Prepared following the top Christian body’s working committee meeting held over a conference call on April 30, 2020, and signed by AICU president Lancy D Cunha and secretary-general Dr John Dayal, referring to religious minorities, Dalits and tribals, the letter also expresses "distress" that during  the lockdown situation is being “abused by some governments, and non-state groups, to demonise and defame communities, and to target clergy and others…”

Text:

We extend you greetings from the All India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest and oldest in Asia, representing the Catholic Laity of the country for a century.
And we stand in solidarity with you and the Government of India and of the states on combatting of the virulent Corona-19 which threatens life directly and in its impact on the economy, industrial and agriculture economic production.
The lockdown has impacted migrant labour, the peasanty, fishermen and tribals. The Church and the community, as you are aware, have been in the forefront of extending relief to the people across the country, and specially in urban slums, tribal villages and the homeless poor. We assure the nation, through you, of this support as long as it needed in our love for the people. We quote our own Indian Saint, Mother Teresa, who said “Love till it hurts."
We join you in saluting the frontline defenders, the doctors, nurses, researchers, paramedics, the sanitation staff and the police. Our own Christian brothers and sisters are present in large numbers in the medicare fraternity. We believe Jesus is the Healer, and we pray to for healing to all our people in India and in the world.
Dear Prime Minister, the AICU recently held its first-ever Working Committee meeting on an Internet Platform. We realise how technology can be of help in such times, and the immense potential of the internet in connecting and empowering the nation through communication, information, and collective decision-making.
We are therefore using it to bring to your notice a very few of many issues that deeply concern us as a people, and as a minority community. These were decisions we reached at the WCM.

The social and economic welfare of the poor: 

We call upon the government to evolve a comprehensive Social Security Network for the poorest of the poor, the migrant labour, landless and unemployed youth. It was heart rending to see people on the verge of starvation, reduced to beggary, and some dying even as they trudged hundreds of kilometres home. We hope you will soon announce employment guarantees and relief for the jobless.

Medicare: 

AICU calls upon the government to build a national health service and health insurance and medical infrastructure covering every citizen. We noticed that other than hospitals run by church and similar NGOs, it was the government medical infrastructure that led the fight against Covid. 

Education:

The Christian community one of the single largest entity in the education sector after the government. We urge you to ensure creative collaboration with all in finalising the national education policy, revising it to incorporate lessons learnt in the lockdown. We think technology will help government and us to extend education to the last child. 

Religious minorities, Dalits and tribals’ welfare and security: 

The AICU was distressed to note that the lockdown situation has been abused by some governments, and non-state groups, to demonise and defame communities, and to target clergy and others. Christians, and people of some other faiths, pray as a congregation and community. As it is, Covid has closed churches across the world. 
Pope Francis himself celebrates the Holy Mass by himself, and we share in it through the internet. We pray for being able to celebrate the Eucharist Mass in our parishes as soon as circumstances permit. But meanwhile, harassment of clergy and others must end wherever it happens. 

Critical state of Catholic heritage churches in Old Goa: 

The AICU Working Committee was alarmed to see the neglect and callousness on the part of the Archaeological Survey of India in maintaining the 424-year old Basilica of Bom Jesus, an A-Grade National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in which the relics of St Francis Xavier (Goencho Saib) is preserved. After the historic sites connected with St Thomas in Kerala and Mount Thomas, Chennai, this is one of the most important shrines for the Catholic Church, not just for Indians but in the world. 
The Parish Priest has said that the Archaeological Survey of India has left the ceilings of the Bom Jesu Church open to the vagaries weather, and no steps have been taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds". 
Very urgent action needs to be taken so that there is no threat to the relics and the Basilica. 
AICU volunteers to be involved in the process of saving preserving the Basilica of Bom Jesu as an integral part of the religious and cultural heritage of India.
Thank you for your consideration,
The AICU joins the community in praying for you and the government.
God bless India.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Govt of India has money for all stuoid things like Flypast, build tallest statues of Politicians etc and other thamasha but no money poor and restore heritage which they have taken over. It would be easier to collect funds from the Catholic community itself if the Government of India did not take over this site of Basilica. Current Govt. is biased and would neglect this site because it is no Hindu site.
Anonymous said…
Christian society as lot if money lot of fund they can always get to do something for this problem.. do not expect from the govt for every bit please. And You are always free to ask miano for help
Anonymous said…
It's a National shame & disgrace. If Archaeological Society of India cannot fulfill its responsibilities then they should say so and hand over the World Monument back to the Clergy.

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