08/29/2020, 10.22
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Archbishop Barwa: The legacy of the martyrs of Orissa

by John Barwa

Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of the 2008 anti-Christian pogrom and the Kandhamal Martyrs' Day. The aim of the celebration is so "we never lose hope in life, whatever difficulties we may encounter".

Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - "The life and courage of these people is a legacy for the Church and we want to keep it for future generations": with this quote from John Paul II, Archbishop John Barwa, of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, urges his faithful to remember the martyrs of Orissa, killed in an anti-Christian pogrom in 2008. At the behest of the Bishops' Conference of the region, the day of the memory of the martyrs is set for August 30, tomorrow.

In 2008, starting from August, Hindu nationalist violence, unleashed above all in the district of Kandhamal, destroyed 395 churches and places of prayer of Adivasi and Dalit Christians; 6500 houses were burned; at least 100 people killed; over 40 women were raped, harassed and humiliated; schools, social services, health centers destroyed or vandalized; more than 75 thousand people displaced; many Dalits forced to (re) convert to Hinduism. Even today, none of those responsible for the violence have been brought to justice.


Here is the message of Msgr. Barwa:

Dear Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and faithful, 

We are commemorating the 12th Anniversary of the Kandhamal Martyrs day, on 30th August 2020. This day has been decided and dedicated as Martyr’s Day by Odisha Catholic Bishop’s Council (OCBC). On the occasion of Martyrs Day we pay respect, homage and pray for the cause of martyrs of Kandhamal. May the words of Tertullian “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church’’ echo in our hearts and become a reality in our holy land of Kandhamal and in the Archdiocese. 

Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, “All Christians share a common martyrology. Our goal is not to canonize anyone, but only to remember those who sacrificed themselves for Christ. The life of courage of these people is a legacy for the Church and we want to preserve it for future generations.” We hope that the observing the martyr’s day will inspire us to follow Christ in a more personal way and strengthen our faith in Christ and never lose hope in life, whatever difficulty we might encounter. 

Therefore, I kindly request you all to make arrangements for prayer and adoration in your respective parishes and villages keeping in mind the present guidelines of the government in force. 

+ John Barwa, SVD 

Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar



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