In the wake of a brutal attack on a 75-year-old nun and several church burnings, a radical Hindu leader in India has pledged continued attacks on the Church if conversions by Christians do not stop.
"Will the Christians allow us to make a [Hindu god] Hanuman temple in the Vatican?" Surendra Jain, a senior leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, was quoted saying in the newspaper Daily News & Analysis.
In response, a spokesman for the New Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, said, "How do we even respond to this kind of language? How can one stoop so low."
The police arrested eight men, aged between 20 and 30, accused of raping the nun on the night of March 13-14. The men stole cash, a cell phone, a laptop and a camera. The nun was discharged from the hospital after two days of hospitalization.
A day later, a church in the northern Haryana state was destroyed and the vandals planted a flag with the name of the Hindu god Rama, according to the Associated Press.
The incidents occurred a few weeks after the leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the main group of Hindu extremists in India, accused the Missionaries of Charity, founded in India by Mother Teresa, of "proselytizing."
The RSS is the militant Hindu organization with which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his political life. It is also the ideological parent group of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The RSS has long been accused of stoking hatred against Muslims and Christians.
"Physical violence inflicted on religious women, the rape of an old and sick nun, the desecration of consecrated hosts, are ruthless and inhumane acts, of which all citizens of India should be ashamed," the Bishops’ Conference of India said in a statement sent to Fides News Agency. The bishops said nuns’ "unselfish service has contributed much to the development and progress of our dear nation."