Interview | Archbishop Peter Machado Karnataka

We are being provoked, but peace is the watchword: Archbishop Peter Machado

He says trouble is being manufactured over Christ statue

Kapalabetta hillock, by the sleepy Harobele village near Bengaluru, is suddenly in the news. A proposal to install a statue of Jesus Christ over 114 ft in height has been bitterly opposed by Hindutva groups, while the government has ordered an enquiry into the allotment of 10 acres of gomala land. The enquiry report by the Ramanagaram Deputy Commissioner is yet to be made public.

The Christian community, on the other hand, has been arguing that the land allotment is in order and that the hillock has been used by them for more than 100 years on Good Friday to remember the Passion of the Christ. The Hindu spoke to the Archbishop of Bengaluru, Peter Machado, on the matter. Excerpts from the interview.

What do you think made the statue issue controversial?

If at all the Hindus of that area were saying the statue should not be there, I can understand. Locally, people have no problem. In fact, they take part in the programmes happily. We are asking for a statue and we do not know how it will affect other communities. There are certain people outside who are trying to influence them. The fringe elements are making this an issue.

Have the land rules been violated in any way?

The land was legally allotted to us and we have not encroached. We obey the government rules and regulations. Our scriptures direct us to respect the government because the authority [of the government] comes from God. Attempts are being made to find fault in what was legally given to us. If there are loopholes, rectify them. If they [the Congress and JD(S)] have given land, you [BJP] can help us put up the statue.

Has the Christian community been hurt by all this?

Yes. We did not expect such vehement opposition. We would have understood if we had caused any loss or violated the laws. It is disappointing that accusations of conversion are being hurled at us. More than 1.5 lakh students study in church-run institutions in Bengaluru, and thousands visit our hospitals. Are there any reports of conversions?

What has been the church’s response to the matter?

We are waiting for the report and our response is to not get agitated. Our message is that if it is God’s will, we will get it. If not, let us not break our heads over it. We are being provoked, but peace is the watchword. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is a gentleman, and it is up to the government to understand our sentiments.

Do you believe the statue is important?

I will be proud of the statue. I also stand by the peaceful aspirations and the people’s desire to have the statue installed. The statue, in itself, is not important. But a sanctuary or a pilgrimage centre helps bring more people to pray and gives us occasion to work towards the betterment of society. The message is that let us not have a situation where the statue is the foremost priority. If there are philanthropists funding the statue, we will be happy and the church will contribute too.

What will be your course of action now?

If truly something is missing and defective, and the government wants to set it right, I am all for it. If they want to withdraw permission for a flimsy reason, then of course we will seek legal recourse. But I do not think that we will go to that level. Some goodwill and good sense will prevail somewhere. On the other hand, we will not reduce our efforts and zeal for social work. Whether people applaud us or put us down, we will continue with our work.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 7:50:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/we-are-being-provoked-but-peace-is-the-watchword/article30670200.ece

Next Story