02/04/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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The Church will rise stronger from the ashes of Orissa

by Card. Telesphore Toppo*
The president of the Indian bishops' conference tells AsiaNews about his recent visit to the zone of Bubhaneshwar, at the centre of the violence at Christmas against the local Christian community. Here the extremist fury has claimed six lives and destroyed dozens of homes and churches. Thousands of refugees are afraid to return home. "In spite of the suffering, hope shines in the eyes of Christians".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - An expanse of ashes is what remains in the areas stricken by anti-Christian violence at Christmas in Orissa.  It was diabolical; churches desecrated and houses burned. The villages upon which the extremist Hindu violence fell are today a vast cremation ground.

The Hinduvata extremists destroyed everything. Even if the Christians had attacked due to a mistake, or even for a confrontation, or if they were provoked, there could be absolutely no justification for such a retaliation. This was pre-planned. This is the history of Christianity; the Church has always suffered and on these ashes a new Church will arise. Christians have suffered immensely in history, but we cannot suffer more than Jesus Christ himself.

In spite of all the sufferings of the people, I was very encouraged by the spirit of the people. I visited the refugee camps, and there is so much hope in the eyes of the people, they are strong in faith. When the people saw me, their faces brightened up, there was hope and expectation in their eyes. They expect the people of India to help them to rebuild their lives. They have suffered physically, psychologically, but the forces of evil could not crush their spirit. The spirit of man will never accept such grave evil, and will rebel against such inhuman and monstrous manifestations of evil.  Hence I am sure that God writes straight on crooked lines, and the people of India will not allow this evil to overpower the sprit of humankind.

India is a great country, a secular democratic republic, and I urge the authorities to  do justice to our Christians. Those who wanted to unleash a reign of terror on the Christians in Orissa have carried out their work, but the Reign of Christ and his mission will be carried out in the great motherland of India forever.

We must keep in mind at this time the words of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, who enlightens us with his encyclical Spe Salvi.  We need to interpret these events from a Christian point of view; it is the Holy Spirit who is guiding the Church. In the light of this persecution which the Christians have to go through, in the refugee camps, the importance of hope is decisive in enabling the spirit of man to be able to face the present with all its problems and difficulties.

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