Goa Church raps priest after anti-BJP sermon

In a desperate bid to put a lid on the controversy surrounding a Catholic priest's sermon ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Church in Goa on Monday expressed regret and has also said that Fr. Conceicao D'Silva, whose comments against BJP caused a nationwide stir, has been cautioned. 

In its statement issued on Monday, Goa Catholic Church's Diocesan Centre for Social Communications, which handles the Archbishop's social communication, also said that ahead of elections, the Church does issue a general advisory of sorts giving a checklist for a good candidate to be chosen to its flock, but added D'Silva had overstepped his brief by naming political parties and people. 

"It is regretted that the parish priest of Raia (a village in South Goa), while addressing his parishioners recently, has made some objectionable statements about a specific political party as well as individuals of that party," the statement issued by Centre said. 

"The concerned priest, in this case, has been cautioned to refrain from making such statements. We sincerely regret any pain or hurt that these statements may have caused," it further added.    

"General principles are also given on what to look for in the candidates and in their manifestos. While doing so, priests are advised not to mention in public any names of candidates or of political parties," the statement said. 

On Saturday, two viral videos featuring D'Silva, in which he referred to BJP national president Amit Shah as a "demon" and attributed the cause of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar's affliction of cancer to the "wrath of God" went viral in the national media, attracting uniform condemnation. 

The BJP on Sunday, filed a complaint with the Election Commission, calling the videos, which are extremely critical of the BJP, as examples of "hate speech".

Catholics account for nearly 26% of the state's population and the minority vote is especially crucial in the South Goa Lok Sabha seat, which accounts for the bulk of the state's Catholic population.

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