The Vatican on Tuesday criticised an attack in Orissa by suspected VHP activists who set fire to a Christian orphanage, killing a woman and seriously injuring a priest.
In a statement, the Vatican said the "Holy See expresses reprehension for these actions which harm the dignity and the freedom of people and compromise peaceful civilian coexistence."
It appealed for an end to violence and for "a climate of dialogue and reciprocal respect."
The denunciation of a top Vatican official in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera published on Tuesday was harsher.
In the interview, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran called the attack "a sin against God and humanity." Tauran said there was "no possible justification" for yesterday's attack in Khuntapali, a village in Orissa.
"Certainly religion cannot be invoked for crimes of this type," Tauran, who heads the Vatican's council for inter-religious dialogue, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Tauran was quoted by Corriere as saying that the incident would prompt him to intensify his contacts with Hindu leaders. He urged them to address the problem of violence against Christians, which he claimed is being largely ignored.