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    » 12/31/2012, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa: thousands of Hindus attend Christmas Mass, a sign of hope for 2013

    Nirmala Carvalho

    For Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, such an event is unprecedented in the history of the troubled state of Orissa. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics and Hindus brought flowers and candles to the Baby Jesus in all the parishes of the state. In his New Year message, the archbishop stresses the importance of young people in spreading and bearing witness to the message of Christ among the nations.

    Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of thousands of Christians and Hindus took part in Midnight Mass in the parishes of Kandhamal, Bubhaneshwar and other districts in Orissa. For Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, "the level of participation is unprecedented in the history of the Church in Orissa". Interviewed by AsiaNews, the prelate said that "sense of peace, festivity and prayer was palpable in the churches."

    Catholics and non-Christians came to Mass with their families. Hundreds of children brought flowers and candles, which they placed before crèches to pay homage to the Baby Jesus. In light of the anti-Christian pogroms by Hindu extremists in 2007 and 2008 that left hundreds dead, this is extraordinary fact.   

    "God came to earth to be with us," the archbishop noted. "Slowly, non-Christians are recognising that." For the prelate, the large crowd is a sign that Christ brings together people from all nations.

    "A young Italian woman attending the Mass asked me why there were so many people," he said. "Because they want to share the joy of Jesus," he answered.

    "Looking at all these people, I realised that I am not a pastor for Christians alone. All the people in my archdiocese belong to my flock. On 25 December, the Baby Jesus spoke to everyone with the simplicity of his presence, telling everyone: 'I am here!'"

    In his message for 2012, Mgr Barwa thanked the civilian administration for protecting religious buildings during Christmas celebrations.

    "All that we are and all that we have is God's gift," the archbishop said.  "The New Year, 2013, the Year of Faith, is God's gift to us who are privileged. I hope the New Year will be rich in opportunities to work together and that it may bring hope, harmony and communion in Orissa."

    For the archbishop, youth and children are the backbone of Orissa's Christian community. Through education to deepen faith in Jesus, they can be agents of social change and true messengers of Christ in a society divided by hatred and violence.

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    See also

    24/12/2009 INDIA
    Peace and forgiveness, two sides of Christmas among Orissa Christians
    The faithful prepare to celebrate Christmas with hope, even after a long period of persecution. The authorities in Kandhamal have promised security and call for “respect and solidarity with Christian communities.” People want to “forget the pain, divisions and the loss of dear ones.”

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

    11/10/2004 india
    Hindu Activists Arrested For Attack On Missionaries of Charity


    31/10/2013 INDIA
    Year of Faith in India: Poverty is destroying the country
    Bishops, priests, religious and lay Catholics around the country take part in a national symposium on how the social doctrine of the Church is applied today. Examining some documents of the Second Vatican Council, participants identify five "critical" areas. AsiaNews presents the Symposium’s conclusions. Part One.

    17/11/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: European delegation meets victims of anti-Christian pogrom
    Representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland visit the region more than a year after it was shaken by violence. Authorities in New Delhi deny the diplomats permission to visit Kandhamal district. They meet ten survivors at the Bishop’s House in Bhubaneswar-Cuttack diocese. Bishop Cheenath said they expressed “concern” but “did not make any promises”.



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