Rationalist charged with blasphemy over ‘miracle water’ issue
He allegedly termed as a “money-making racket” the incident of water seeping out of a crucifix.
Posted on April 22, 2012, 7:40 AM
Police have summoned the chief of a rationalist organization for his alleged remarks over the “miracle water” incident in a Mumbai church which hurt the religious sentiments of Catholics in the city.
Sanal Edamaruku, president of Rationalist Association of India, allegedly termed as a “money-making racket” the incident of water seeping out of a crucifix outside the wall of Our Lady of Velankanni Church at Irla, a suburb of Mumbai in western Indian state of Maharashtra.
He made the comments on a TV channel last month after visiting the cross.
A first information report was filed on March 10 and Edamaruku was charged with “deliberately hurting the religious sentiments” of people, Arun Bhagat, senior police inspector of Juhu police station, told ucanews.com today.
Thousands of people, mostly Catholics had thronged the cross on March 5 when the word spread like wild fire that ‘miracle water’ was seeping out of the cross.
“The church has not made any pronouncement on it. There is a lengthy scientific process that has to be undergone before any official pronouncement is made. It is quite possible that the happening may have a totally natural explanation,” Auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Gracias of Bombay Archdiocese told ucanews.com.
“We have never said it was a miracle though the devotees came to pray. But it was sad that it was claimed to be a money-making scam as not a single penny was collected and even those insisting on making donations were told to feed the poor,” said Father Augustine Palett, parish priest of Our Lady of Velankanni Church under whose jurisdiction the event occurred.
The priest said Edamaruku should apologise and the matter will be closed.
The bishop said they resented Edamaruku’s “loose remarks” that the incident was created by priests to make money and that the Catholics worship images and the pope is against science.
Meanwhile, Edamaruku, who has been conducting research on all kinds of miracles for the past 3 decades, told ucanews.com that “I had no malicious intent and was just fulfilling my fundamental duties.”
He said that he saw water oozing out from the statue of Jesus Christ on the boundary wall of the church and collected the water for chemical analysis.
Edamaruku said he saw water seeped out of joints of bricks on the road near the statue. He said it was “dirty water coming out of a washroom and getting logged near the wall behind the statue.”
“I don’t care if I am arrested. I will not even appeal for bail,” said Edamaruku, who was born to a Christian father and a Hindu mother but claims to be an atheist.
Agnelo Fernandes, President of Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum, had filed a complaint against him in the police station.