Goa Church expresses regret over priest's 'hate speech'

Panaji, April 15 (IANS) The influential Catholic Church in Goa on Monday expressed regret over a recent hate speech by a Catholic priest criticising the BJP, party's national President Amit Shah and late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, which went viral and is being investigated by election authorities.

A statement issued by the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media, the communications arm of the Church in Goa, also said that the priest in question has been asked to refrain from making such speeches.

"The concerned priest in this case has been cautioned to refrain from making such statements. We sincerely regret any pain or hurt that these statements may have caused," said the statement issued late on Monday.

In the undated video, which went viral on Saturday, D'Silva described Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah as a "demon" while also alleging that Parrikar's affliction of pancreatic cancer was a "wrath of God". He also said that minorities are being harassed by the BJP, especially in Gujarat.

The state's Chief Electoral Officer has already ordered a probe, after the Goa BJP filed a complaint saying the sermon was a "hate speech".

The Church communique also said that before elections to the Assembly or the Parliament, the Church in Goa does issue guidelines to its priests to encourage their parishioners to fulfil their duty to vote and that general principles are also given on what to look for in the candidates and in their manifestos.

"While doing so, priests are advised not to mention in public any names of candidates or of political parties. It is a matter of regret that, nonetheless, there are a few instances when this particular advice is not followed," the statement said.

--IANS
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