ASIA/INDIA - Christians in Orissa seek protection for Christmas

Bhubaneswar - A few days before Christmas, the Christians of Kandhamal district in the Indian state of Orissa, the epicenter of anti-Christian massacres of 2008, call for a Christmas in peace and free from all violence: "We want to celebrate Christmas in peace and serenity", says to Fides Fr. Pradosh Chandra Nayak, pastor of Our Lady of Charity church in Raikia in Kandhamal district. This is why the pastor submitted a written request to the local police station in Raikia to ask protection for churches and Christian villages during the Christmas celebrations.
"Every year during the Christmas holidays, as a precautionary measure we ask the police protection, to guarantee the peace of the Christian community, who could still end up in the crosshairs of Hindu fanatic groups", the priest told Fides. "We hope that nothing unpleasant happens, and that Christians can celebrate Christmas in peace. We will pray for the coming of Christ who is the Prince of peace", he concludes.
In August 2008 there was a fierce anti-Christian riot in Kandhamal district, and since then, occasions like Christmas become moments when the faithful fear further violence by Hindu fanatics. Meanwhile Archbishop John Barwa, at the head of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, sent a message to priests, nuns and faithful "inviting them to celebrate Christmas with joy and without fear".
There are 24 Catholic parishes in Kandhamal district out of 36 parishes of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Kandhamal is the central part of the Archdiocese, and the main body of the Catholic population based in Kandhamal.