Carmelite Priest Slain in India

En Route to Celebrate Sunday Mass

HYDERABAD, India, AUG. 18, 2008 ( A 37-year-old Carmelite priest was tortured and killed on Saturday night as he traveled to the site where he was to celebrate Sunday Mass.

The body of Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Father Thomas Pandippallyil was found by religious sisters headed to the Mass he was to celebrate at the center in Yellareddy, where he was director.

The Carmelite had joined the Chanda mission of his order in 1987. He was ordained a priest in 2002.

He was last seen alive by those same nuns who offered him dinner Saturday after he had celebrated Mass for them.

“Father Thomas is a martyr: He sacrificed his life for the poor and marginalized,” said Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad. “But he did not die in vain, because his body and his blood enrich the Church in India, particularly the Church in Andhra Pradesh — the southeastern state where he died.”

“The Church in India is shocked and deeply saddened by this barbarous killing, the result of a growing climate of intolerance and violence against Christians in this country,” the 65-year-old archbishop added.

Archbishop Joji contended that the crime is the result of “jealousy of the Catholic Church.”

“Priests and nuns,” he said, “have for decades been at the service of the least fortunate in India, and this makes them targets of forces of evil who do not want the marginalized and impoverished to become empowered.”