Mumbai: Church parishoners wear black to show solidarity against Kathua, Unnao rape cases

Apr 16, 2018, 18:30 IST | Gaurav Sarkar and Chaitraly Deshmukh

95 per cent parishioners at Malad church attend weekend mass in black as a gesture of solidarity against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases

The parishioners arrived dressed in black after a message from the parish priest
The parishioners arrived dressed in black after a message from the parish priest

The recent Kathua and Unnao rape cases that have shaken - and hopefully woken up - the entire country, have found supporters at the St. Jude Church in Malad east. The church, that has around 900 parishioners, saw nearly all attendees who came for various services over the weekend wear black from head to toe, to stand in solidarity with Unnao and Kathua. The idea was the brainchild of parish priest Fr. Warner D'souza, who sent out a message on WhatsApp earlier in the week asking all of his parishioners to support the cause.

Shocked at attitude
D'souza told mid-day, "These incidents have thrown humanity out of the window...While we are not numb to rapes, we are shocked at the attitude of those who stood beside the rapists." He further said: "In my church, 95 per cent of the parishioners wore black to attend mass. We also had a woman parishioner, who works with a women's organisation, address the attendees for 30 minutes today. Another friend of mine from Canada who received the WhatsApp message vowed to wear black to his church as well, to be a part of the cause."

Last straws
Father D'souza also pointed out that the Catholic church has not been blind towards child sexual abuse cases happening in its own backyard. "Nobody is denying it or hiding it under the table," he said, adding, "In my church last year, I got together all the youth and showed them the movie 'Spotlight' and had a discussion after that. For critics to say you never speak up when rapes happen with Hindus and Muslims but talk only when the victim is Catholic is nothing short of social intimidation. Everyone has a time to speak up and you must respect that. Kathua and Unnao were the last straws that broke the act of silence."

Rally in Thane
At 7.30 PM on Wednesday at St. John the Baptist Church in Thane, there will be a rally to condemn the Unnao and Kathua rape incidents. It will start with a common prayer and silence by bishop Allwyn D'Silva, followed by an explanation of the cases by two advocates, and end with a collective pledge and signature campaign.

Pune marches too
Pune, too, came together on Sunday to march for justice. Akhil Ennamshetty, who had organised a candle vigil, said, "This to awaken our society and shout out that we will not tolerate such violence and ignorance." Sangita Tiwari said, "We will not tolerate these atrocities on women."

Total no. of parishioners of St Jude Church

Also read: Shutdown over Kathua rape hits life in Kerala, many arrested

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