Catholics in India Shocked by Brutal Murder of Priest

Had Been Threatened for Alleged «Proselytism»

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NEW DELHI, SEPT. 1, 2004 ( The Catholic community of India is in shock over the brutal murder of Father Job Chittilappilly whose body was found dead with knife wounds early Saturday morning.

Father Job, 71, who served the Syro-Malabar community for 45 years, lived in the parish residence of Our Lady of Grace church in Thuruthiparambu in the Southwestern state of Kerala.

Although the motive for the murder is still unknown, the investigators said that the crime seems to be an execution. Nothing was touched or stolen from the parish residence, Fides missionary agency reported Tuesday.

«Father Job was praying the Rosary before Holy Mass…when he was attacked and knifed to death. Our diocesan community is profoundly affected by this incident. We don’t know who could have killed him,» said Bishop James Pazhayattil of Irinjalakuda.

Sources of the local Church reported that the priest had received intimidating telephone calls some time ago, threatening him with death if he did not cease to «proselytize.»

“Father Job used to visit Hindu families, who welcomed him warmly. He did not proselytize,” the bishop stressed.

«It is the first time that a priest is killed in cold blood in Kerala,» said Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Thrissur, who has appealed to the police for an immediate investigation to bring those responsible to justice.

Father Job was buried in St. Anthony’s church in Moorkanadu, the parish where he was born. The funeral service, at which Bishop Pazhayattil presided, was attended by numerous priests, religious, and faithful, as well as civil and political personalities.

The violent incident is added to a chain of attacks against Christians in Jharkhand and Orissa, recently condemned by the conference of Catholic bishops of India which appealed for religious tolerance and the intervention of the civil authorities.

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