01/08/2009, 00.00
INDIA - VATICAN

Cardinal Dias: Indian government should protect minorities and victims of massacres

The cardinal recalls the Church's activity on behalf of the people, "without distinction of caste or creed." Cardinal Oswald Gracias asks for prayers "for peace in India and in the world."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "India is well known as the world’s largest democracy," and for this reason the authorities must respond adequately to "attacks on Christian minorities in Orissa and Karnataka," restoring the image of a "secular and democratic country." These remarks came today from Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the congregation for the evangelization of peoples, visiting Mumbai to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. The anniversary was celebrated last December 9 in Rome - Cardinal Dias was consecrated on December 8, 1958 - but the prelate wanted to commemorate the event in his native land, today, with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in which the city's current archbishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, also participated.

Cardinal Dias recalled the recent anti-Christian persecutions in Orissa, and those who died in the massacre in Mumbai last November 26. He related the "deep concern and pain" of Benedict XVI over the violence, the pope's "special prayers" and blessing for the victims and their families. The cardinal then emphasized the work of the Catholic Church in India in service of the poor, the sick, and the suffering, the Catholic schools and institutions that offer instruction and hospitality "without any discrimination whatsoever of caste, culture or creed." He finally recalled his "deep-seated devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary," and urged the faithful to face their "challenges and difficulties," reiterating that "suffering and persecution are an essential trait of our Christian DNA."

Cardinal Gracias addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Dias for the 50th anniversary of his priesthood, recalling the many activities that he initiated in the ten years during which he led the archdiocese, and the human qualities that convinced Pope Benedict XVI to call him to Rome to lead an important dicastery. "The shadow of the terrorists attacks on our city is still upon us," Cardinal Gracias said, and on this day of celebration as well it is necessary "to pray for peace in the subcontinent and for peace the world over. "

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