Pope Mourns for 3 Salesians Murdered in India

Attack at Novitiate Tied to Separatist Militiamen

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II expressed his sorrow publicly over the brutal killing of three Salesian religious in India on Tuesday.

The victims were directors of the Salesian novitiate near Imphal. They were killed by three uniformed separatist militiamen of the region, who invaded the religious center, officials said.

Father Raphael Paliakara, 43, novice master, went out to meet them. They asked him to bring out the novices and separate out those who were members of the Naga tribe. When the priest refused to comply, the militiamen shot him point-blank.

Then, they opened fire on Father Andreas Kindo, 32, assistant novice master, and Brother Shinu Joseph, an assistant, who ran to help the fallen novice master. All three died instantly.

It was the gravest attack against members of the Catholic Church in northeastern India. Over the last few months, Catholic schools in the area have subjected to extortion by armed separatist groups.

In a message sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to Father Juan Edmundo Vecchi, major rector of the St. John Bosco Society, the Pope expressed «in this sorrowful moment to you and your brothers, and the relatives and friends of the victims, his special closeness and profound sympathy for the grave loss of the generous servers of the Gospel, reaffirming his heartfelt condemnation of any form of violence.»

«Hoping that the spilled blood will become a seed of hope to construct real fraternity among peoples, His Holiness assures you of his fervent prayers for the eternal repose of the chosen souls, and sends his heartfelt and consoling apostolic blessing,» the telegram concludes.

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