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Mob Attacks Archbishop, Catholic School

December 19 (Compass Direct News) – A crowd of angry parents attacked Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore yesterday, smashing the windshield of his car. The archbishop was visiting a Catholic school complex and church vandalized by a mob of more than 100 people the previous night in the suburb of Jalahali.

As Archbishop Moras, along with Father C. Francis and Father Anthony Swamy, approached the campus gate to inspect the damages, hundreds of angry parents who had gathered stopped his car. The mob was shouting slogans and carrying banners demanding the arrest of Father Mathew Theruvanmoola, principal of the high school at St. Claret High School and College.

The enraged parents dragged the archbishop and his companions from the car before smashing the windshield. Police were present but did not intervene.

The archbishop then discovered that someone had accused Fr. Theruvanmoola of sexual misconduct with female students; also, staff members at both the high school and college were accused of distributing Bibles and converting students. The rumors spread quickly.

After some time, the crowd swelled to around 2,000 people, who burst onto the property and ransacked the school premises.

A total of 2,400 students, both male and female, attend the high school and college.

Fabricated Accusations

“The accusations against Fr. Theruvanmoola are fabricated,” Father Peter D’Souza of the Claretian Provincial House, whose premises include the school and church, told Compass. “Fr. Mathew could be arrested and harassed, so he has left for another state until anticipatory bail can be obtained and he can defend himself decently.”

Prema Lata, a female teacher at the school, also defended Fr. Theruvanmoola. “We don’t know who is behind these rumors,” she said. “We suspect they were started by some disgruntled people whose children were denied admission to the school. The staff are saddened and shocked by these absolutely false allegations.”

Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, strongly condemned the attack and urged the Karnataka state government to protect minority groups and institutions.

Previous Day’s Attack

On Sunday (December 17) at about 11:15 p.m., more than 100 people armed with sticks, stones and bricks had entered the Claretian Provincial House in Jalahali, seized the security guard and tied him up with ropes. They then threw stones and vandalized property in St. Thomas church, which is on the premises, along with the St. Claret High School and College buildings and a security shed.

Hearing raised voices, Father Jacob Arackal and Father Joseph Areekathundathil, senior officials at St. Claret, came out to investigate. The mob attacked both men with sticks.

Police were called but did not arrive until the mob had dispersed.