The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India joins the Archdiocese of Mumbai in remembering the soldiers killed in an attack on 14 February. They "gave their lives to protect us" and their “lives have not been sacrificed in vain”. He also invokes God's blessing for India and its leaders.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), issued a statement today to “condemn the cowardly terrorist act that took the lives of 40 of our young soldiers” on 14 February in Kashmir, the worst ever against the Indian army.
The prelate is currently in Rome at a meeting ordered by Pope Francis to deal with the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults within the Catholic Church. Speaking on behalf of his fellow bishops, but he addressed his archdiocese saying that he “cannot join you for the mass, but I am united with Bishops John and Allwyn and you spiritually”.
This morning the two bishops mentioned – Mgr John Rodriguez, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, and Mgr Allwyn D'Silva – celebrated a Mass in memory of the fallen soldiers and their families before thousands of worshippers at St Michael’s Church in Mahim where Mgr D'Silva read the cardinal’s message that follows.
All of us gathered here strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist act that took the lives of 40 of our young soldiers last week in Pulwama on Thursday 14th Feb. I am in Rome and so cannot join you for the mass, but I am united with Bishops John and Allwyn and you spiritually as you offer the mass.
We salute the brave young men who have given their lives for us. When they entered the armed forces and specially when they were being taken to this particular mission, they were aware of the great risks involved. They gave their lives to protect us.
With deep sorrow in our hearts, we pray for them and their families. Their families should know that their sons’ lives have not been sacrificed in vain. By our own lives of service to the nation, we pay tribute to these 40 heroes.
Mother of Perpetual Succour we pray for these Jawans who have died and for strength to their families in this moment of sorrow. May God bless India! May God bless our leaders! May God protect our country and may God take away hatred from the hearts of all those who believe in violence. May God bless us with lasting peace!