04/29/2016, 17.36
INDIA
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Card Gracias, saddened by the attack on Bishop Gallela Prasad, champion of the poor

by card. Oswald Gracias

The archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference condemns the attack against the bishop of Cuddapah. He calls on the authorities to act quickly. He also prays that God may “touch and turn the hearts of those who committed this sacrilegious assault.” The attacked bishop is closely involved in empowering the poor and women.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – We are deeply saddened by this sacrilegious attack on Bishop Prasad. We assure him of all our support and prayers, and we appeal to the authorities to apprehend the culprits as soon as possible.

The bishop has selflessly served the Diocese of Cuddapah. Through his tireless ministry as shepherd, he has given hope to the hopeless.

Without discriminating, he has always helped the poorest of the poor and the communities neglected by the caste system, which is remains deeply rooted in India. Still today, there is little chance for those born into poverty to escape it.

Mgr Gallela Prasad, bishop of Cuddapah, was abducted and beaten last Monday (25 April) afternoon, when he was returning from a church service in his district on behalf of the poor.

Cuddapah is home to 5.8 million people, including 80,000 Catholics. The diocese is divided into 56 parishes. Two priests celebrate Mass at the ‘main station’ and visit the various parishes to administer the sacraments.

The fact that this attack was perpetrated as the prelate was performing his duties is a source of anguish and grief.

Mgr Prasad has always been concerned for the poor and for women. One of the major commitments of his ministry is in favour of women’s empowerment.

Since most girls in rural India do not attend school beyond the age of 15 years, the diocese offers an 11-month training programme that culminates in the gift of a sewing machine worth US$ 100. This allows graduates to go on to earn a living.

Mgr Prasad’s diocese also offers healthcare for the poor, and runs child-and-mother care programmes that focus on nutrition and general health.

For the Indian Church, this attack is a source of great sadness. We pray for the bishop’s quick recovery and call on God’s merciful love to touch and turn the hearts of those who committed this sacrilegious assault.

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