10/29/2018, 10.28
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The sufferings of the Christians of Kandhamal at the Synod of Bishops

by Nirmala Carvalho

In 2008, the most ferocious persecution against Christians occurred in the State of Orissa. The archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar recalled the murder of the Christian Rajesh Digal. The episode was also taken up by Pope Francis.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - At the Synod of Bishops that ended yesterday at the Vatican, there was also talk of the persecuted Christians in India, the violence in 2008 in the district of Kandhamal and the suffering of the faithful who chose death rather than the recantation.

Speaking to  AsiaNews, Msgr. John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in Orissa outlined his speech before the Synodal Fathers, on October 17, inc which he recalled the story of Rajesh Digal, a Christian buried alive by a crowd of Hindu nationalists during the 2008 pogroms.

The story of the young Christian was later mentioned by Pope Francis in his homily on the day after in Santa Marta. Speaking of persecution, the pontiff said: "Yesterday, in the Synod hall, a bishop from one of these countries where there is persecution told of a Catholic boy taken by a group of young men who hated the Church, fundamentalists; he was beaten and then thrown into a cistern and buried in mud up to his neck, they ordered him to "say 'for the last time: Do you renounce Jesus Christ?". And he: "No!" So they threw a stone at him and killed him. And we all heard it, this did not happen in the first centuries: this happened two months ago! ".

Archbishop Barwa reports that after his speech the hall exploded into a long applause. The archbishop also mentioned what happened to his niece, Sr. Meena Barwa, who suffered a gang rape in front of the police who looked on without coming to her aid. Finally, he recalls that in May the High Court of Orissa ordered the payment of further reparations to 14 widows of Christian faithful murdered during the massacres.

In the Final Document of the Synod we often mention the testimony of the martyrs: "Contemplating and meditating during the Synod the courage of so many young people who have renounced their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel was moving for us: listening to the testimonies of the young people present at the Synod which in the midst of persecution chose to share the passion of the Lord Jesus was regenerating "(No. 167).

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