02/06/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa incidents shameful, love is needed now, says Sister Nirmala Joshi

by Nirmala Carvalho
The superior general of the Missionary of Charity Sisters writes to the population of the Indian state hit by a violent anti-Christian campaign over the Christmas period. In her letter she warns against losing the sense of God and of the Sacred in today’s democratic and secular India. She urges everyone to move towards reconciliation and forgiveness.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) – Sister Nirmala Joshi, superior general of the Missionary of Charity Sisters, sent a message of reconciliation to the people of Orissa in which she urges everyone to respect the sense of God in a secular and democratic state like India’s.

In late January Mother Teresa’s heir travelled to the areas (the districts of Kandhamal and Gajatati) that were hit over the Christmas period by anti-Christian violence led by groups of Hindu extremists.

As a result of the violent campaign, six people were killed and some 70 buildings belonging to Christian institutions, including Churches, were destroyed or burnt. Some 600 houses suffered a similar fate, whilst 15 vehicles and 25 motorcycles were also destroyed. Altogether some 5,000 people were affected by the incidents.

Both the Sisters and Brothers of Mother Teresa were present in the affected areas, victims of the violence; some sisters were forced to flee into the forests.

Sister Nirmala travelled from January 16 to the 21 around Orissa, a guest of the pastoral centre of the diocese of K Nuaga.

At the end of her visit she wrote a letter expressing her pain for events in Kandhamal. In it she appealed to all “our brothers and sisters,” urging them to “put down” the “weapons of hatred and violence and put on the armour of love, asking forgiveness for the wrongs we have done to one another [. . .] forgiving those who have done wrong to us,” thus becoming “reconciled with one another, and reach[ing] out with love to each other, keeping in mind that works of love are works of peace.Still she could not remain silent over the violence itself.

“It is a real shame for our country—the Republic of India, a secular state—that such things have happened,” she wrote. “We know the high ideals and the spiritual heritage of our nation.” For this reason, “[h]ow could we, not only as Indians, but also as human beings, the children of God stoop so low, do to our own brothers and sisters what has been done, violating their basic human rights, losing totally the sense of God, the sense of the sacred, and the sense of our very humanity created in the image of God!”

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