12/11/2010, 00.00
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Forming priests for the Church's mission in Orissa victimized by Hindu extremism

by Santosh Digal
This message is the result of a meeting of bishops and seminary rectors held in recent days in Bhubaneswar. For priests and prelates future priests should be able to face their vocation beginning with the challenges arising that have emerged from the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal.

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - Orissa needs mission-oriented priests formed, able to face the challenges in the light of anti-Christian massacres of 2008. This is what emerges from a meeting on the situation in Orissa attended by 30 of bishops, seminary rectors and priests from eight dioceses held in recent days in the Bhubaneswar.

The violence that erupted in Kandhamal district in the summer of 2008 caused hundreds of deaths among priests, religious and laity. Dozens of churches and schools run by local Christians, were destroyed on a wave of false accusations of proselytism. Over 50 thousand people were forced by the Hindu community to abandon their land to seek refuge elsewhere. Despite the violence, the Christian community is still thriving. In Orissa, there are two major and 10 minor seminaries, with about 500 students. Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil of Balasore in Orissa and head of the Episcopal Conference, said: "We all have a shared responsibility in helping the future priests and missionaries to address the situation and the challenges raised by the pogrom in Kandhamal."

"The priests - he continued - should be aware of the missionary dimension of their vocation that must be addressed from the very start of their formation in the seminary and in the various phases of their priestly formation”.

According to Father Mihit Upasi, from the Diocese of Berhampur, the task of spiritual fathers and bishops is to give future priests intellectual, psychological and pastoral tools which to aid the mission of the Church in these lands. "They need - he said - a guidance and support to help them give courage to the Christian community to address the problem of Hindu fundamentalist groups that for decades have targeted Orissa”.
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