The Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal has called on all Catholics in the Himalayan nation to pray for peace and for the rights of minorities. Church leaders made the appeal on April 25, following an April 18 arson attack on a vehicle parked near Kathmandu’s Assumption Cathedral that damaged the parish residence. The Vicariate "decided to hold an hour of prayer in all of the country’s churches,” said Chirendra Satyal, spokesman for the local Catholic Church. "Hundreds of people joined in the prayer for peace and for Christians,” said Satyal Chirendra. “Hundreds of non-Catholics came to the mass and condemned the violence and attacks against minorities." He added that many young people wore T-shirts that read “We would like to see Jesus "
Police have launched an investigation into last week’s attack but has not made any arrest so far. The incident is the second attack against Nepal’s main Catholic church. In 2009 a bomb exploded killing three people during a religious service, an act blamed on the Nepal Defence Army, an extremist Hindu group. An improvised explosive device planted inside the church exploded on May 23, 2009, as prayers were about to begin. The attack claimed three lives and injured many.
"I was asleep when fire broke out and flames came into the house,” Assumption Cathedral’s parish priest, Father Ignatius Rai said talking about the attack two days after Easter. On waking up he rushed to children's room to get them out to safety. The fire was brought under control with the help of neighbouring people. "Whoever did it, he must be brought to justice,” Fr Benjamin demanded, adding that the attack will not deter the Catholic Church in its mission. Recalling the 2009 attack in the church, he said “innocent people were killed and now we see another horrible attack.” “Minorities must have the right to exercise their faith freely,” he said.
"Let us pray for peace and solidarity,” urged Fr. Benjamin during the prayer service in the cathedral. “This incident teaches us to be alert about possible attacks. Churches all over Nepal have to be careful and increase security." The parish priest said. He noted that minorities must be guaranteed "respect and dignity, so that all religious groups can be free to practice their faith. We can no longer endure persecution and violence." (Source: AsiaNews)