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Holy escape leaves Church red-faced

india Updated: Jul 17, 2008 02:31 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times
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Church officials have expressed shock over reports that some Indian delegates to the World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Australia have gone missing. At least 35 youngsters are reported to be missing and efforts are on to trace them with the help of their families back home and the New Zealand Labour Department.

India has sent a 710-member delegation to attend the international church event to be addressed by Pope Benedict XIV on the concluding day on July 20. They left in four batches from different airports including Delhi and Mumbai.

Terming it a disgrace to the church and the entire nation, Syro-Malabar Church spokesman Father Paul Thelekkat said the church should take it as a lesson and screen the participants well before sending them for such events. “At least 125 of them are from Kerala. According to initial information, the number of missing Keralites is between six and 10,” he said.

The Indians were to stay with the Auckland diocese before heading for Sydney on July 14. But at least 35 of them went missing after a few days. “It seems those who travelled were more interested in greener pastures than gracing the noble occasion with the Pope,” Thelekkat said.

Not only Catholics

Melbourne: According to a PTI report, not all the missing Indians are Catholics; some of them are Hindus and Muslims. New Zealand Sikh Society spokesman Daljit Singh, who was in contact with some of the missing pilgrims, said: “They are from all over India, from every community.” He said two men he had spoken to were not Catholics. He added that the incident had tarnished the image of the Indian community in New Zealand.