Vicar General's Murder Lamented in India

Episcopate Calls for Probe Into Monsignor Nellickal’s Death in Tezpur

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TEZPUR, India, SEPT. 6, 2005 ( The Catholic bishops’ conference of India condemned the “brutal killing” of the vicar general of the Diocese of Tezpur and appealed to the authorities to investigate the crime.

The episcopate said Catholics in the northeastern state of Assam were shocked at last Friday night’s killing of 65-year-old Monsignor Mathew Nellickal.

Monsignor Nellickal had begun his work as vicar general two months ago. Previously, he had been a parish priest, headmaster, and rector of Muktidata, a minor seminary of the diocese.

According to a statement from the Diocese of Tezpur, Monsignor Nellickal’s body was discovered Saturday morning in a storeroom next to his bedroom in the bishop’s residence. He had deep gashes on his temple and face.

Monsignor Nellickal “was a very active, sincere and enthusiastic priest of our diocese, full of cheer and good will,” said a diocesan note. “He was a friend of everyone.”

A bishops’ conference spokesman, Father Babu Joseph, said that it is sad that Church leaders are attacked despite the social work they undertake in the area, reported the episcopate’s news service. The episcopal conference asked the National Minorities Commission to probe the priest’s killing.

The letter is signed by Father Joseph, who said that Monsignor Nellickal’s murder should be viewed in the context of the rising incidents of atrocities against Church officials, institutions and missionaries across the country.

Bishop Robert Kerketta is expected to officiate at Monsignor Nellickal’s funeral Thursday.

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