Goa church officials agree to give basilica for adoption

Light of truth

After initial opposition to a government plan to involve private companies in the maintenance of heritage sites in India, church officials in Goa have agreed to accept the scheme for the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus.

A meeting between church and state officials on May 7 resolved differences and the church has agreed to let a private firm take over the management of the 16th century Portuguese church, Minister for Archives Vijay Sardesai said.

The agreement came after it was “clearly understood that the scheme is not about taking over the monument but rather its preservation under international standards,” he said.

Church officials in the former Portuguese colony earlier express-ed their dismay when media reported a federal government plan to have private players manage ancient religious sites under its “Adopt a Heritage” tourism project announced last September.  The federal and Goa governments, both run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, listed six heritage sites in Goa under the plan, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus that holds the remains of St Francis Xavier.

Church officials have accepted the plan “unanimously because it is beneficial to the monument,” said Father Loila Pereira, secretary to Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa.

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