Despite persecution Odisha Christians rooted in faith

2014-08-27 Vatican Radio

As Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state on Monday marked the 6th anniversary of the dreadful 2008 anti-Christian violence centred in Kandhamal District, a top Catholic Church leader of the state asserted that faith in the crucified Christ has never abandoned them.  “Our people live in truth and love, and despite our suffering, vocations to the religious life have increased. Six years have passed from the terror carried out by Hindu extremists but the witness offered by the victims remain steadfast, and this has produced fertile seeds", said Archbishop John Barwa Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar.  Violence against Christians erupted with untold savagery in Kandhamal District on August 25, 2008, with Hindu extremists ‎blaming the August 23 murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati on Christians, despite ‎claims by Maoist rebels.  During the persecutions about 400 villages were purged of all Christians; more than 6 thousand houses, 340 churches, chapels, clinics and schools were burned and destroyed; thousands of people were injured; many women and girls - including a nun - suffered gang rapes; about 60 thousand men, women and children were left homeless. A total of 75 people, including the treasurer of the archdiocese, were brutally killed.  Archbishop Barwa lamented that today, numerous victims are still awaiting justice and compensation.  In remarks on the Kandhamal anniversary, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said the Church in India was praying for Iraqi Christians and other vulnerable population. “We pray, that uniting the wounds of sufferings of our Kandhamal Christians, may bring Peace to Iraqi Christians," he added. (Source: AsiaNews)

(From archive of Vatican Radio)