By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BANGALORE, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Police in India’s southwestern city of Bangalore continued searching Thursday, April 4, for murder suspects after the priest and rector of a major Catholic seminary was found beaten to death.
K.J. Thomas, 64, was discovered by another priest lying in a pool of blood in the corridor near his room at Bangalore’s ‘St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary’ early Monday, April 1, police and Christians said.
“The attackers killed Father K.J. Thomas hitting him in the face and head with a brick,” explained the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), an advocacy group representing churches and mission groups.
His face and body was mangled with priests and seminarians struggling to recognize him, according to police investigators.
Police initially said the motive for the attack was theft as some documents were missing from Thomas and administration. Critics questioned that explanation, saying his computer, iPad tablet and other personnel belongings were not touched.
India has seen widespread attacks against Christian leaders and devoted church members at a time when Hindu hardliners try to halt the spread of Christianity, rights groups say.
Bangalore police said it would continue an inquiry into the murder, described as “brutal, terrible and senseless.”
Indian media quoted police as saying the priest was killed in a paved yard and that the assailants dragged the body to the room and cleaned the bloodstains of Thomas’ cassock. The midnight rain appeared to have washed away most of the blood, complicating the investigation.
The killing came as a shock for his sister and nun, who he was supposed to have picked up at the airport, seminary officials said. After her brother did not respond to repeated phone calls, Sister Jacqueline reportedly went on her own to the seminary where she learned he had died.
“The murder of Father Thomas has shocked the entire community, because he appeared to have no enemies, no problems,” the GCIC said in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
This week, a Requiem Mass was held in the chapel of the seminary, where admirers said the “soft-spoken and mild-mannered gentlemanly” priest trained thousands of seminarians for priesthood during his long association as teacher, professor, theologian, philosopher and ,finally, two-terms rector.
Archbishop Bernard Moras condemned the murder calling his death “a great loss to the archdiocese, especially to the seminary.”
St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary has a history that dates back to 1778. It was shifted to its current premises in Bangalore in 1934 and has become a major institute for advanced learning.
K.J. Thomas was to be buried later this week.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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