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» 03/10/2009
INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
After jail, Christians pray for Saudi king Abdallah
by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr. George Joshua was arrested in 2006 by the religious police, for celebrating Mass in a private residence. In 2007, he founded a group that has been joined by more than 500 people. They are praying for the well-being of the kingdom, and for freedom of religion. The priest invites Christians in India to make a "positive contribution to Saudi society."

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Praying for Saudi king Abdallah; for the well-being of the country and for religious freedom; for the Christians of India, who should make "a positive contribution" to the society that welcomes them. In this spirit, Fr. George Joshua, an Indian Catholic priest of the Malankara rite, has created prayer groups that every day, 24 hours out of 24, 7 days a week, alternate Masses, recitation of the Rosary, and meditations for religious freedom and for the prosperity of Saudi Arabia.

In 2006, Fr. George, who is from Kerala, became familiar with the rigors of the Saudi jails: the bishop had sent him to the Arab country to prepare Indian Christians for Easter. The religious police in the kingdom arrested him at the end of the Mass, and put him in jail for four days (see: In a Saudi jail I shared the suffering of the Crucified Christ, says Father George). In Saudi Arabia, it is prohibited to practice any religion except for Islam.

During the spiritual retreat after his experience in jail, Fr. George had a vision of "a chalice cup planted on the map of the Saudi kingdom"; he says that he received a "call" to pray for the country, in which God gave him "the opportunity for an experience" of profound faith. On May 1, 2007, Fr. George founded the Christ Army for Saudi Arabia (CASA), made up of groups that "pray and fast" for the well-being of the Saudi kingdom. As of today, more than 500 people have joined the initiative.

"Our primary prayers are for the king of Saudi Arabia," the priest explains, "and for the prosperity and richness of the Saudi kingdom who so generously welcome tens of thousands of Indian to work there, thus leading to an better lifestyle and improved standard of living in their native India."

Fr. George has talked with Indian nurses who are working in the Saudi kingdom. "75% are Catholics from Kerala. I tell them they should serve their patients with the love of Christ, serve the sick with tenderness and love." He also recalls the many laborers in the factories and industries of Saudi Arabia; they come from a society, that of India, that is "multicultural, interconfessional, and pluralist," and can "make a responsible and positive contribution to Saudi society."

"In Saudi Arabia," Fr. George concludes, "when Christians and our dear Muslim friends interact so closely on a daily basis, each respecting the other as individuals and respecting each other’s religion, it gradually builds up fraternal collaboration. All this will be fulfilled through our prayer cells of CASA."


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See also
04/17/2009 PAKISTAN
Lahore High Court clears two Christians of blasphemy charges
by Qaiser Felix
03/11/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
Prison, whipping for 75-year-old widow: her nephew brought her bread
04/08/2009 TURKEY
Easter among the Muslims, in the land of Saint Paul
by Luigi Padovese*
03/30/2009 TAJIKISTAN
New synagogue of Dushanbe to open soon
03/19/2009 UZBEKISTAN
Uzbek Christians face persecution and discrimination even after death

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
PALESTINE - ISRAEL
Palestinian leader says Gaza war will end only when peace talks start
by Bernardo CervelleraFor Prof Bernard Sabella, this war that has lasted for 25 days is bound to continue indefinitely if leaders do not agree to open talks on "two peoples-two states." Gaza's youth (75 per cent of the population) has no economic and social prospects. Fundamentalism is growing even among Israelis. A ruthless war, in which both Hamas and Israel use civilians as a shield.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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