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The anti-Christian violence in India is worsening

07/10/2008: India

The anti-Christian violence in India continues to worsen, declared the Indian bishops to those who arrived for the meeting of the Federation of the Bishop Conferences of Asia. In the last days the bishops of the entire Asiatic continent sent out a Message, signed by Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Secretary General of the FABC, which declared: We are seriously concerned by the many acts of violence perpetrated against the Catholic Church in India, against priests, religious, laity, buildings, sacred places and objects. We are equally concerned by the sufferings of the other Christians. Every day we read about killings and destruction. What was once a country of great harmony and religious tolerance today is a tragic picture ruined by a minority of extremists. We pray to the God of love and peace, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that the violence can be stopped and all those who are prone to violence can retrace their own steps and discover the just road toward a peaceful and harmonious relationship with their Christian Brothers and sisters.”

The Bishops’ Message later addressed a strong call to the Indian government authorities to arrest and to condemn those responsible. The Message came at a time when the Indian Church became painfully aware that the anti-Christian violence, initiated in the state of Orissa, had spread to other states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andrà Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Tamiles Nadu.

After more than an month of unjustified attacks, which had multiplied in spite of the calls of Christian and Hindu leaders and international pressure, the Indian bishops feel “upset and concerned by episodes of extreme violence against Christians,” expressing their indignation “by the apathy and indifference of the government, at the central level and in each one of the states. The old civilization of India is being humiliated and its values like truth, tolerance or respect zealously preserved for centuries, are being trampled on. The secular and democratic image of India has been seriously damaged in the eyes of the international community.”

The text demanded strong measures such as immediate detention of fundamentalist groups, who have acted like bandits and have been detained as “terrorists”; compensation to the Christian churches for the violence suffered; the identification and trial of those responsible, both the leaders and the executors. The constitutional rights of Indian citizens of the Christian faith, which are the same as those of all the other citizens of the nation, are being trampled upon. Finally it reminds the aggrieved Christian communities of the teaching of the Church that the response will always be marked by non-violence, peace and pardon.

Brother Alex Arockiasami from West Bengal writes us: Lately the Hindu fundamentalists are attacking the churches and religious in many zones of India. Some have been hit in states near us. Also in the south of India similar situations are spreading. But in West Bengal up to now nothing has happened. We don’t know what will happen in the next weeks or months. I’ve spoken with some priests and other important persons. Two officials came yesterday to the parish rectory to ask us how things were going. They told us that we should not be concerned and assured us that they will take care of us. Before leaving they gave us a phone number to call in case we need urgent help.

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