08/18/2016, 11.07
INDIA - VATICAN
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Orissa: Kandhamal victim, Sr. Meena Barwa, recalls Msgr. Cheenath

by Nirmala Carvalho

The nun was raped and beaten during the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008. At the funeral of the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar Sr Meena message sent a of gratitude for the support she received.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "I always felt his pain for me, his suffering, his silent solidarity": Sister Meena Barwa describes to AsiaNews, the late Archbishop emeritus of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar , Msgr. Raphael Cheenath, whose funeral was held yesterday.

Sr. Meena was raped by a group of Hindu radicals during the early days of the anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa, in August 2008. By challenging social conventions and taboos, the religious also denounced her rapists and had the courage to testify at their trial and even before holding a press conference on the urgency of the trial.

Sr. Meena, a the Servite of Mary, said: "It was Msgr. Cheenath who organized the press conference in New Delhi, preparing everything, down to the smallest detail. He did not speak, but I could feel his pain, his suffering; he was always close to me, silent and full of solidarity and prayer”.

Sr. Meena was unable to attend the funeral of Msgr. Cheenath, held yesterday in the Sacred Heart Church in Andheri East. The funeral service took place at 3pm, led by Card. Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, in the presence of Msgr. John Barwa, the current archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar and uncle of Sister Meena.

Msgr. Barwa read a letter sent by the nun, expression of the suffering Church in Orissa.

The letter in a blue envelope, was placed on the body of the deceased. Msgr. Barwa took it, opened it and began to read the text in odiya language, in which Sr Meena called the deceased "Bappa" ( "father" in odiya).

The letter, says the nun, is "my pledge of love, and homage to our leader, our father and our guide". "Thank you – she continues- for all you have done for the people of Orissa and especially for the suffering people of Kandhamal ... And thank you for walking with me in my struggles after the violence, consoling, guiding me towards the future and supporting me until now".

Sr. Meena had met Msgr. Cheenath last May. She had come to Mumbai - where the bishop found refuge, following threats received in Orissa - to thank him in person. The prelate prayed with her and blessed her saying, "You are a great woman".

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