As nation celebrates Liberation Day, time for Church to apologise for Goan Inquisition

President Ram Nath Kovind visited Goa today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Goa’s Liberation on December 19, 1961 from 451 years of colonial Portuguese rule.

The President laid a wreath at the martyr’s memorial in Panaji’s city square, Azad Maidan, before formally launching a cultural event which featured a performance by diverse cultural groups from all regions of Goa.

Goa was one of the three Portuguese colonies in Bharat, Daman and Diu being the other two. In 1961 Bharat invaded these three territories, liberated and assimilated them into its domain.

But how many of us are even aware about the painful history of Portugal colonisation of this beautiful part of the country, and in particular the horrors of the Goa Inquisition?

Goa Inquisition

The Inquisition was a powerful office set up within the Catholic Christian Church to root out and punish ‘heresy’. Started by Pope Lucius III in 1184 CE, the Inquisition is infamous for the severity of its tortures and its persecution of ‘heretics’ (a Christian deemed not pious enough, adherent of other religion or  atheist).

In 1545, the Jesuit ‘saint’ Francis Xavier wrote to Rome from Goa requesting the Inquisition (in Goa). It was finally introduced by the Portugese colonisers in 1560 and lasted until the year 1812. Countless people were burnt at the stake, or murdered using other methods, and tortured for fun – most of them native Hindus. One can read more about this horrific episode in our history in this IndiaFacts article, or Shefali Vaidya’s moving account.

Sadly, some Christian groups in Goa, who have forgotten the brutal persecution through which their ancestors were forcibly converted, even today nurse affinity for the Portuguese colonisers and raise online petitions to “free Goa from illegal occupation by India”.

The horrors of the Goan Inquisition, like so many other elements of our history, have been hidden from citizens of Bharat. It is time we understand and process this painful past, instead of brushing it under the carpet in the name of secularism. Today, even broaching this topic is considered a taboo, and a man who hated Hindus and invited colonisers to unleash barbarity on them is celebrated as a ‘saint’.

Remaining in denial about history has emboldened Christian evangelists to continue spreading hate against Hindu Dharma, and tricking poor and gullible Goanese.

Conclusion

In order to heal Hindu wounds, the first step would be an unconditional apology from the Catholic Church. Unless the Church, both Catholic and Protestant, learns to respect Hindu Dharma and the other indigenous faith systems of Bharat, our country can never experience true harmony.


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