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ICC Note:

While motives for the murder of the priest are unclear, the surrounding atmosphere of anti-Christian violence indicates that he was targeted for his faith in Christ.

AsiaNews/CBCI (03/20/06) – “Deeply pained and anguished, we condemn the cold blooded murder of a diocesan priest of Goa , Fr Eusebio Ferrão. We appeal to the concerned authorities to take urgent and concerted measures to catch the culprits of this vile act at the earliest.”

With these words, the Archdiocese of Goa condemned the murder of Fr Ferrão, parish priest of the Church of St Francis Xavier , in an official statement issued on 19 March. The priest was killed on the night between 17 and 18 March. “We ardently pray for our brother, who always spoke about peace throughout his mission, so that he may enjoy the eternal abode of our Heavenly Father.”

What happened on the night of the crime is not yet clear: the only certain thing is that the priest died of suffocation with a pillow, but the perpetrators are unknown. According to some witnesses, two men from Uttar Pradesh turned up outside the parish house on the night of 17 March and asked for a place to stay. Fr Ferrão welcomed them, fed them and gave them a place to stay: the police are now trying to track them down.

The motive for the killing is also unclear. Some parishioners said the priest’s work for peace may have something to do with it: Fr Ferrão often used to draw attention to inter-religious violence in the area, writing in a local newspaper.

Goa is an area known for peaceful coexistence between members of different religious communities; however, recent times have seen an increase in sectarian violence. Many Catholic churches, chapels and crosses have been desecrated and insults leveled at members of the local Catholic community – who are told to “go back to where they came from” – have become common.