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  • » 09/04/2008, 00.00


    Shame on India, Europe and the world

    Bernardo Cervellera

    It is shameful that India’s Christians, an important element for the country’s social and economic development, are being massacred whilst the world’s governments and humanitarian associations remain silent in what is another example of “Christianophobia.” Italian bishops call on the faithful to take part tomorrow in a day of prayer and fasting in remembrance of the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.
    Rome (AsiaNews) – Mahatma Gandhi’s India, a land of tolerance and democracy, has been shamed. “It is a disgrace for our country,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a view seconded by Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai. Both agree that what is happening to Christians in the state of Orissa since 23 August is a pogrom.

    The toll so far is a heavy one and bound to rise. Tens of people have died (some estimates put the number at around 100). At least 52 churches (both Catholic and Protestant) have been destroyed. Hundreds of homes have been damaged. Four convents and five hostels and youth residences have fared no better. Six Catholic volunteer and social institutes have been devastated. Last but not least hundreds of cars have been set on fire and countless personal belongings have been lost.

    Even now thousands of Christians are still in flight, running from slaughter, living in forests, terrorised, without food or clothing.

    Orissa, a state located in north-eastern India, has seen such waves of persecution before. Last December on Christmas Eve, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu fundamentalist organisation, attacked and destroyed 13 churches and chapels, killed three people and wounded scores of Christians in Kadhamal district, leaving many people homeless.

    One of those who drove Hindu mobs against Christians was Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a VHP leader.

    The latest wave of persecution came right after the Swami met his maker at the hands of a Maoist terrorist group on the evening of 23 August.

    Even though law enforcement authorities were quite clear about who was behind the Swami’s assassination, some VHP leaders immediately blamed Christians for his death.  

    During the guru’s funeral thousands of radical Hindus began the pogrom shouting “Kill Christians! Destroy their institutions!” Ultimately, by relentlessly attacking Christians and their institutions they can wipe out their mission.

    For Tribals, who are often worked like slaves in farming, and Dalits or untouchables, Christianity is way out of their situation; a way to have their rights protected; a way to finally have some dignity as human beings. To some extent the degree of persecution is a measure of the Christian mission’s success.

    But in being anti-Christian, Hindu fundamentalists are going against the Hinduism preached by the Mahatma Gandhi who wanted a secular India, open to all religions, without castes; a country that would give Dalits, or Harijian (children of God) as he called them, their dignity.

    In its exclusivist nationalism the VHP is closer to Nazism for it aims at turning India into a country without Christians, Muslims, Parsees, etc, destroying India’s history, turning its back on the country where cultures and religions met and mixed.

    But what is happening is not only India’s shame. It is also that of Europe and the world. Except for a few voices like that of Italian Foreign Minister Frattini, no government has dared to say anything about the massacres in Orissa, let alone calling for them to stop.

    Many pacifists and associations quick to defend other groups, minorities, endangered species, have chosen silence; perhaps they might even suspect that behind the charges of proselytism levelled by Hindu radicals there might be some truth.

    As some Vatican leaders pointed out, in Europe and around the world there is a kind of Cristianophobia that seeks to rid itself of its Christian heritage, perhaps even through lies.

    For this reason, the news about anti-Christian persecution in Orissa, in China or the Middle East are of little interest; indeed, they might even be justified.

    This makes our news service, prayers and witness all the more important, in India and in Europe.

    The call by Italian bishops to a day of prayer and fasting tomorrow, 5 September, on behalf of India’s Christians and in remembrance of the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is part of this commitment to truth and love.

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    See also

    19/01/2009 INDIA
    Priests and tribals will denounce the violence of New Delhi against tribals
    At the WSF in Brazil, beginning on January 27, the Indian delegation intends to recount how the state deprives tribals of their ancestral land, favoring multinational companies, and the danger of Hindu fundamentalism. The testimony of some of the participants.

    20/09/2008 INDIA
    Witnesses of the Cross of Christ also make India more free
    Cardinal Toppo talks about the persecution of Christians in many parts of India. The work of Mahatma Gandhi must be completed, and hatred and terrorism must be overcome with the nonviolence and forgiveness of Christ. Because in reality, "truth alone triumphs".

    10/12/2010 INDIA
    Human rights violations increasing rather than decreasing in India
    The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) slams the complicity or the incapacity of state governments to stop attacks against religious minorities. Fr Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit, says, “Dalits are still children of ‘a lesser God’ in most parts of the country”.

    08/07/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: government looking for causes of anti-Christian violence, not the culprits
    An interim report on the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal is released. Land disputes, conversions and reconversions and fake ID papers are the causes, this according to the commission of inquiry. For the bishop of Bhubaneshwar, “We do not need an inquiry to better know the truth but the political will to up hold the constitution of India and the law.”

    09/03/2010 INDIA - SOUTH KOREA
    Orissa, Church against a multinational stealing lands of local community
    South Korea's Posco, a steel company, has obtained government permission to use 1,600 hectares of land. But this requires the expulsion of thousands of inhabitants. Catholics turn against the project, and earn the support of the Hindus.

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