Kandhamal (AsiaNews) - Sister Meena, the religious sister beaten and raped during the bloody anti-Christian pogrom that erupted in Orissa during the summer of 2008, "is the symbol of our struggle, the witness of the Light and Truth." the Bishop of Rourkela tells AsiaNews. Mgr. John Barwa dioceses is in the eastern state of Orissa,: he is also the victim's uncle and has accompanied and supported her during the trial of the Hindu extremists raped her.
Sr. Meena Barwa, of the Servite religious order, worked in the Divyajyoti pastoral centre in K Nuagaon in Kandhamal district, along with a priest, Fr Thomas Chellan. The sister was born in the district of Sambalpur, and made her final vows last April. On 25 August 2008, together with the priest who worked at the Centre, she was taken, beaten, stripped and made to walk through the village. At one point, the fundamentalists wanted to even burn her alive with the priest. Instead, they raped her. Only at the end, late at night, while still being abused and beaten, were they released by the police (See: AsiaNews.it, 10.25.2008 I, Sr. Meena, raped by Hindus while police stood watching) .
The case has arrived at the court of judge Bira Kishore Misra. The local Christian community accuse the authorities of collusion with extremists and the trial of sister Meena is seen as the right opportunity to demonstrate the population’s desire for justice. The nun, the bishop says, "becomes stronger every day, nourished by Eucharistic Adoration, Mass and the Rosary. Sure, there are rare moments in which she experiences a sense of imprisonment, fatigue and pain, but through the prayers of the whole tribal Church she gains strength and overcomes these crisis".
On 23 July she celebrated her birthday: "She is five times more courageous than I and encourages me in my mission as Bishops. Sister Meena is pursuing her studies and academic career, she attends college (where nobody knows who she is) and travels by public transport". In fact this has created concerns for her safety: "For me, for our people and for the Church in Orissa, she is proof of the victory of light over darkness."
Of course, he adds, "all those clothed with darkness, will never want the truth and light to be revealed, that is the reason, why we need to protect her, and not disclose her whereabouts, so that the Light remains.” The nun’s witness also derives from her family background, and tribal origins.
As the Bishop explains, "We come from a very rural background, my home is in the jungle, and from such a rural and very ordinary family, God has chosen one of our family member (Sr Meena) as an instrument of his courage, strength and witness and this encourages me to work and serve our Tribal Church. We owe everything to the Missionaries, they brought us out of the jungles and helped us to discover the divine and from our simple humble rural family. God has a Divine Plan for Sr Meena and no situation should block the growth of this plan "
Regarding the impending trial, Mgr. Barwa says: "I asked Sister Meena directly if she felt scared or angry, but she said no. She is seeking justice not only for herself but also for our people, but she is not angry. With regards the identification of the culprits, she said that it is God who enlightens her and the Holy Spirit that gives her the strength to face them again. The last time we were together before such a moment, we held a beautiful Eucharistic celebration together with her superior, we celebrated for over three hours in prayer, with the Word of God, in Eucharistic healing. A gift of grace and peace for all of us. "(NC),