The Catholic Church in India is in mourning, following news of the murder of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of the major seminary in India: St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore.
The Archbishop of Bangalore, Dr Bernard Moras said: “I strongly condemn the murder of Thomas, who was a very pious, soft spoken and harmless priest. He was serving St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore as its Rector for the second term. His death is a great loss to all of us, especially to the seminary.”
St Peter's has students from 53 dioceses and 19 Religious Congregations amongst its 253 seminarians and post-graduate students.
Archbishop Moras explained: “Early today I received the shocking and the sad news of the most brutal murder of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore in the early hours of 1 April. I immediately rushed to the Seminary to initiate the Investigation. The top police officials came to the spot and are investigating this murder case. This is a most heinous crime… Please pray for the repose of his soul, and consolation and strength to the bereaved family members to accept this irreparable loss.”
The motivation for the murder is still unclear, although at least three individuals appear to have been involved. The students were all away on holiday at the time. Fr Thomas’ room was ransacked but, as far as they could judge, the police found the priest’s valuables intact. Fr Patrick Xavier, the seminary Procurator, discovered the body and raised the alarm. Preliminary investigations suggest that the 65 year-old Rector died as a result of severe head injuries."
Fr Thomas, a native of Kerala, had taught Systematic Theology in the seminary for more than 30 years and, at his death, was serving his second term as Rector.
St Peter's Pontifical Seminary was founded in Pondicherry in 1778 and moved to its current premises in Bangalore in 1934. Although 350 miles from St John’s Major Seminary in Hyderabad, supported by the Society of St Peter the Apostle (SPA) in England and Wales, St Peter’s, as with every other seminary across the developing world, receives help from Missio and, in 2012, received more than £81,500 from Missio-worldwide.
Mgr Canon James Cronin, National Director for Missio in England and Wales, commented: “We were shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic and violent death of a priest who had given more than thirty years of his life to the training of priests for India. We have just celebrated Easter and the moment when Jesus laid down his life on our behalf. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fr Thomas’ family and all those with and for whom he lived and worked at St Peter’s Seminary. We pray that he will rise with Jesus to the full joy and new life of the Resurrection.”