11/22/2019, 13.34
INDIA
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Bishop Mascarenhas: Attacks on Sisters of Mother Teresa continue

The Jharkhand police raided the missionary house in Dumka. Two other complaints about child trafficking. The bishop asked for an inquiry into the state commission that deals with adoptions. "They want us to lose credibility, but our faith is strong."

Ranchi (AsiaNews) - In the Indian state of Jharkhand the "Sisters of Mother Teresa are under attack from the authorities, who do not want the Catholic Church to work for the needy. But we will continue to serve the poor without fear,” states Mgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi and former general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI).

The bishop spoke to AsiaNews about complaints that the police have registered false cases of illegal adoptions with the connivance of the state commission that deals with adoptive practices. "Someone does not like  the fact that we work for the poor-. They accuse us of forced conversions, but it is false. They are afraid of the Church because it has a place in the hearts of the people ".

The missionaries of Charity ended up under the magnifying glass of the state authorities last year, when the Nirmal Hriday (pure heart), an orphanage of the religious, was implicated in a case of alleged sale of minors by two employees. Sr. Concilia Baxla, who ran the facility, was jailed. Although a formal charge was never filed against her, Indian authorities held her for 15 months, releasing her on bail in September of this year. Meanwhile, the Hindu nationalist government has investigated all orphanages.

Msgr. Mascarenhas denounces a persecutory policy towards the sisters: "After Sr. Concilia’s release, two other complaints were presented. The first on 22 October, the second on 18 November. In the first case, the nuns are accused of having given the son of an abused minor who had turned to their structure through the Ursuline nuns of Khunti in 2013 up for adoption. At that time, the girl gave birth at the Sadar Hospital in Ranchi; later the Child Welfare Committee (Cwc) of Ranchi, who manages the files, gave consent to the adoption of the child, because the girl had decided to abandon him. The missionaries, who were active in the field of adoptions, later suspended in 2015, took care of finding a parental couple. Now the biological mother, instigated by the CWC, is claiming the nuns did not have the permits to have the child adopted".

The second complaint, continues the prelate, "concerns a similar case. The story dates back to 2016, when a single mother, abandoned by her boyfriend, turned to the Ursulines of Dumka because she wanted to have an abortion. The nuns, opposed to abortion, proposed the woman she could carry the pregnancy to full term with the care of the local sisters of Mother Teresa. Later the pregnant woman went to the Nirmal Hriday of Ranchi and gave birth at the Sadar Hospital, because in the other districts there are no specialized hospitals. The child was then given up for adoption by the CWC, because the missionaries had suspended this service. Now instead the woman has returned and has denounced the orphanage. Finally, on November 20, after that, 30 policemen raided the convent of the Sisters in Dumka and searched the house for three hours."

In India, he explains, "there is stringent legislation which requires the obligation to report in the event that the pregnant mother is a minor. The nuns are blamed for not reporting the minor age of the young women, but it was not a task for them. It should have been the hospital and the Cwc to take charge of it. For this reason, we ask that these two state bodies be investigated ”.

Other Catholic sources from Jharkhand and neighboring Indian states confirm a climate of discrimination against the missionaries: “The sisters are persecuted because they are a symbol of the Church's charity in India. The authorities do not want Christians to work for the poor ".

Msgr. Mascarenhas clarifies "It is not just the sisters of Mother Teresa who are under attack. The Jesuits are under investigation in two proceedings, then also the Ursuline nuns. They attack us because the sisters look after people who are rejected in society, dying and suffering. They would like to paint us like thieves, sellers of children. They know that if they physically attack us, we become stronger. While it is easier to attack ourselves morally. They want us to lose credibility but we are strong in faith. Let us move forward in our service of love for the poor. It is the Lord who gave us this task ". (A.C.F.)

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