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