06/11/2004, 00.00
INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
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No Saudi reply to Bishops' information request on O'Connor case

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews, Fr. Babu Joseph, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, clarified the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference in regard to Brian O'Connor,  the Indian Roman Catholic who has been held and tortured for the last 6 months in Saudi Arabia, on charges of preaching Christianity and drug use and alcohol-selling.

How has the  Church officially  responded to the plight of Brian O'Connor?

We have looked for some information regarding  the report of this particular incident from the Saudi Embassy. We have asked for information, but we have not sent an official letter from the Bishops Conference at all. The incident has been widely reported in the papers, and so we wanted more information. This information, of course, we could not get.

There was a basic miscommunication about a letter. We have not sent an 'official letter' at all on behalf  of the Bishops Conference  to the Saudi Embassy.

What is the reaction of Indian Christians to news of Brian's torture?

Christian organizations, particularly, the All India Catholic Union seemed to have sent a fax message to the Embassy, appealing for his release. They have done this independently.

Will the Church increase involvement if the matter is not resolved justly? 

I will say this: In case there is a need, we may take it up within the government, because this has to do with the two governments of India and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, we will do so if there is a need. We have not yet petitioned the government.

If there is a request  to the Bishop's Conference from concerned people, then we might consider doing so. But as of yet, we have not done anything extraordinary.

How is the Church in India standing in solidarity with one of its members  who is suffering for the faith?

People have been asked to pray both on the diocesan level and in his native place, Karnataka, for Brian's release. We are certainly concerned about his situation. The Church has of course been in contact with his family. In the meantime,  we must all wait and hope and pray.

 

 

 

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