Vandalism at the Catholic cathedral: Seychelles shocked by the destruction of statues and crosses
All of the cathedral’s statues and prayer stations of the cross were destroyed and a fire was set on the pews and crucifixes. (Nation of Seychelles)
The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, has strongly condemned and denounced the acts of vandalism that took place in the Roman Catholic Church Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the capital Victoria on Thursday evening.
All of the cathedral’s statues and prayer stations of the cross were destroyed and a fire was set on the pews and crucifixes.
Ramkalawan, who is also an Anglican priest, said he was saddened and appalled that such unacceptable acts had taken place.
“This is not just a crime against the church but a crime against the whole country, a crime against our own harmonious culture of tolerance among our people. It is a place of worship where we raise our prayers to our creator, our children receive sacraments here, where we share solemn spiritual moments and where we come to seek consolation and support when the lives of our loved ones pass away,” he said.
The president is offering a reward of SCR100,000 ($7,600) to anyone who can provide information while police are investigating.
|Ramkalawan (2nd left), who is also an Anglican priest, said he was saddened and appalled that such unacceptable acts had taken place. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria, Alain Harel, said what happened is shocking and sad.
“At the moment it’s a shock and a pain and I tell you frankly that I don’t know what to do next. But I know that the Cathedral is a strong symbol. It is the mother of all the churches in the diocese. When we arrived at the church, we see a crucifix which has been destroyed… The crucifix shows us Jesus on the cross who has forgiven, but forgiveness does not mean that we cannot fight against ideologies which destroy a society,” he said.
Father David Alcindor of the Roman Catholic Diocese told SNA that what happened is very sad not only for the Catholic community but for the country as a whole.
“All the statues found in the church were smashed and we also saw traces of petrol on the pews where they tried to set them on fire. The artefacts that were smashed are priceless and have been in the church for many years. years,” he said. said.
Alcindor said that “we will have to sit down and decide what to do next. Once the police have finished their work in the cathedral, we will resume our services – but first we must first organize a ritual of purification and repair”.
He added that “when we locked the doors at night, we didn’t know there was anyone in the church, so these things happened overnight.”
|Father David Alcindor of the Roman Catholic Diocese told SNA that what happened is very sad not only for the Catholic community but for the country as a whole. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
Visible Police Chief Antoine Desnousse told reporters that while the motive and exactly what happened remains to be established, he treats this incident as very serious.
“Although the cathedral does not have security cameras on its premises, the police are looking at cameras found in other buildings which may give us clues to the presence of vehicles or anything else because it does not there was no visible sign of a break-in,” Desnousse said.
He did not release more information as an investigation has begun.
The chairman of the opposition United Seychelles (US) party, Patrick Herminie, said it was with great sadness and regret that the party learned of the vandalism at the cathedral.
“These actions show the degeneration of morality in our small country and that many of us have lost respect for religion. United Seychelles joins the Seychellois community in condemning these barbaric actions and pray that in this difficult time for the Catholic Church and the people of Seychelles in general, severe measures are being taken to bring those responsible to justice,” said Herminie.
Thela Lalande, a devotee at the cathedral, said: “I was talking to a nun in her 80s and she told me it was the first time something like this had happened at the cathedral. It’s the devil’s work; it’s so sad that it happened.”
Seychelles has a predominantly Roman Catholic population, with over 70% believers, followed in congregation size by Anglicans, Hindus, Muslims and other faiths.