Indian Catholic News

Goa church officials agree to give basilica for adoption

Maintenance of the Basilica of Bom Jesus by a private company will ensure its preservation under international standards.

Indian tourists pose for photographs before images of Christ in the annex of the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa. (Photo by Bosco de Souza Eremita/

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 expressed 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.

"The monument will not be touched. The core monument will be in the custody of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and still owned by the church" as is the case now, Father Pereira said.

Father Alfred Vaz, parish priest of Se Cathedral in Old Goa, said the plan would ensure the monument gets timely maintenance.

The ASI now maintains the monument but red tape and fund delays hinder maintenance. Private firms are taking on maintenance to build up their brand names and "will put their best foot forward to ensure that it is maintained to international standards," Father Vaz said.

"For a start, they will maintain cleanliness in surrounding areas and provide drinking water and seating arrangements for the aged and such facilities," he said.

Maintenance inside the church will be done with the approval of church authorities. The new managers will not impose any entry charges for visitors. The revenue earner for private players will be through running canteens and other facilities.

Sardesai said that when a memorandum of understanding is signed, the government will insist on a "no objection certificate" from the church and enforce conditions to ensure smooth functioning of the plan.

The minister said he was also initially opposed to the plan but "we see that the scheme can be actually used to harness more footfalls and increase the carrying capacity of monuments by upgrading them to world-class infrastructure."

Source: UCAN

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