Church rocked by vicious attack on nuns

0715Bangladesh_Sister speaking to policeBy Reinhard Backes and John Newton
“Nuns and priests are being attacked because they stand up for the disadvantaged” – Bishop Sebastian Tudu

A “BRUTAL” attack on nuns in Bangladesh – said to be the first of its kind in the country – has been condemned by the bishop of the diocese.
Following reports that Sisters from the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions were violently assaulted, Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur spoke to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need about the incident.
The bishop reported that up to 60 armed men targeted the Catholic mission in Boldipukur on 7th July at 2am, attacking the presbytery, the convent and the hospital.
Bishop Tudu said: “The attack was massive and lasted about an hour and a half. The attackers brutally beat the nuns. But we don’t yet have the details. At the moment the nuns are in Dhaka [the capital] for medical treatment.
“The door to the presbytery was broken down, and the pastor was threatened and robbed. The convent was seriously devastated. Only when the police arrived did the attackers leave the mission.”
Reports state that 12 men have been arrested in connection with the assaults.
According to Bishop Tudu, this is the first time Sisters in the diocese of Dinajpur or in Bangladesh have been hit in this way.
Bishop Tudu said: “It’s unprecedented because nuns are highly respected in Bangladesh. The attack is obviously a targeted and planned attempt at intimidation.
“Nuns and priests are being attacked because they stand up for the disadvantaged and minorities. The police are now investigating the case. They have promised to clear it up.”
But he described growing attacks against Christians in the diocese of Dinajpur over the last year, including violence against villages where Catholics live.
The bishop added: “A seminary and the seminarians were also attacked. It was always said that the reasons for the attacks had to do with disputes over land and property.”
The seminary has now been moved to another diocese.
Church reports suggest that the latest incident was also motivated by an attempt to steal the Sisters’ land deeds or other property deeds left with them for safekeeping by poor and illiterate locals.
The Bishop of Dinajpur said. “The most recent attack is clearly a targeted response to Catholics’ commitment to the country’s poorest people.”
According to the bishop, the 45 priests and more than 100 Sisters working in the diocese are now afraid of further reprisals.

Editor’s Notes

 

0715Bagladesh_Bishop at crime scene