VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).-Benedict XVI asked
> for an immediate end to the acts of violence against
> Christians in India, which has caused at least nine deaths
> over the past three days in the eastern state of Orissa.
> After delivering his weekly catechesis today in Paul VI
> Hall, the Pope said he “learned with deep sadness”
> the wave of violence against Christians, which intensified
> over the weekend after Hindu political leader Swami
> Laxmananada Saraswati and several of his companions were
> Christians are being blamed for killing the Hindu leader,
> although authorities suspect communist rebels are
> The eastern Indian state of Orissa has long been plagued by
> Christian-Hindu violence, as Christian missionaries work
> with poor tribal peoples of the region and Hindus accuse
> them of forcing or bribing conversions.
> Saraswati, a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World
> Hindu Council, was active in the campaign to stop villagers
> from converting to Christianity or to win them back.
> The Pontiff called the murder of the Hindu leader
> “deplorable,” while noting the violence that has
> erupted in the wake of the killing: “Some persons have
> been killed and others injured. Worship centers, church
> property and private houses have also been destroyed.”
> “While I firmly condemn all attacks against human
> life, the sacredness of which demands the respect of all, I
> express my spiritual closeness and solidarity to the
> brothers and sisters in the faith so hardly tried.
> “I implore the Lord to accompany and support them in
> this time of suffering and give them the strength to
> continue in the service of love in favor of all.”
> Benedict XVI also asked “religious leaders and civil
> authorities to work together to restore among the members of
> the various communities the peaceful coexistence and harmony
> which have always been the distinguishing mark of the Indian
> The violence began Monday morning when Hindu extremists set
> fire to an orphanage, a 21-year-old laywoman who taught
> computer classes critically injuring the priest.
> Four people were killed later that day, including two who
> were burned alive when their thatched huts were set on fire.
> A Christian man was killed in his home in Kandhamal, and
> three others were victims of fires.
> Sister Meena of the Bubaneshwar Social Center was raped by
> groups of Hindu extremists before the building she worked in
> was set on fire, reported AsiaNews.
> Some of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s sisters were also
> attacked; a few were pelted with stones and one was
> seriously injured. And a hospital for the elderly, run by
> the Missionaries of Charity, was destroyed for the second
> time, the news agency reported.
> Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told government
> authorities today that a total of nine people have been
> killed in the attacks, reported the Associated Press. He
> added that the situation was “under control.”
> The episcopal conference of India is meeting Prime Minister
> Manmohan Singh on Thursday to urge him to hold an
> independent inquiry. “We will also ask the prime
> minister for payment of immediate compensation to victims
> and their rehabilitation,” spokesman Father Babu Joseph
> Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay,
> announced that all Catholic schools across India will be
> closed Friday as a sign of solidarity with the Christians in
> Orissa and a protest against the attacks.
> The episcopal conference of India has also declared Sept. 7
> to be a day of prayer for missionaries in the context of the
> brutal murder of Father Thomas Pandippally, who was slain
> Aug. 16 in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh.
In a high level meeting of Orissa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), VHP (Viswa Hindu Parishad), Bajrang Dal and RSS (Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) held in Rourkela on 24th August, they have made a firm resolution to continue the work of demolishing all the Christian Institutions and Churches in the State, especially in the district of Sundargarh. They have planned to start the attacks in the western Orissa from Wednesday (27th August). This is the message given to us by Mr. Patric Minz – a police who went in civil dress to the meeting. Today, the same person conveyed the message that the attacks in the western Orissa will take off from Wednesday (27th August).
Our Confrere, Fr. Edward Sequeira, SVD in Padampur (Bargarh District) and the Rajani Majhi, the warden/ cook of the hostel (which is refered to as orphanage in the newspapers) were very badly beaten up locked up in Fr. Eddie’s room and sent fire. Fr. Eddie locked himself in the bathroom and managed survive. A well wisher of Fr. Eddie took him the nearest sub-divisional hospital at Padampur. His condition was very serious. With the help of the higher Government official, he is brought to the Medical College Hospital at Burla this morning. He is better now.
Another confrere, Fr. Simon Lakra and another Jesuit priest who was with him in Duburi, were chased, caught and taken by the miscreants. They were released and they reached back to the parish by 3.00 AM today. Fr. Joe Perumbil is alright in Dubri and Fr. Victor Soreng is asked to go from Jajpur Road and stay with Fr. Perumbil.
The Catholic Church of Madhupur, Parish Residence and the HM Sisters’ Convent in Madhupur (Sambalpur Diocese), a mission started by Fr. Alois Kanski in 1954, were set on fire on 24th afternoon. The Police told the sisters and the hostel girls to run away. So they left the house and ran into nearby village. The Fathers with the hostel boys also did the same. They are all safe. One of our confere, Fr. Nirmal, who is in Madhupur for language study is also safe. The sisters and girls have managed to reach the neighbouring parish in Chhatisgarh – Chuipalli where the HMs are there. The fathers and boys also have come back to the house last midnight.
The Pastoral Centre of the Archdiocese of Bhubaneswar at Konjamendi, a huge building is totally demolished by blasting it with bombs
Jana Vikas Kendra, a social service centre at Konjamendi was also set on fire.
The director of the Pastoral centre, Fr. Thomas Chellan (a diocesan priest) and Sr. Meena Barwa, HM who ran away and hid themselves in a Catholic house nearby, were caught on 25th and beaten up thoroughly; Fr. Thomas Chellan was stripped and paraded and before they could be torched by fire the Police rescued them and they are now in Balliguda parish.
The new church in Phulbani and few other churches are vandalized and set fire.
One German Lutheran Church near Gaibira parish in the diocese of Rourkela was set on fire on 23rd night itself as soon as the news of the killing of the Swami was flashed in the TV news.
Please appeal to all the Bishops and Major Superiors of Orissa to seek the help of the All India Bishops (CBCI) and in solidarity with the persecuted Church of Orissa, they could call for a close of all the educational institutions in the country, so that, the students’ parents of good will also show some concern and demand the stop of all these atrocities. The earlier we do the better it will be to stop all the planned attacks by the anti-social wings.
Thanking you and requesting your prayers,
Fr. Joseph Amalan, SVD
Parish Priest, Sundargarh