Filipino Church prays for persecuted Christians of India
by Santosh Digal
The archbishop of Palo calls for the faithful to remember the persecuted Indian Christians in their daily prayers. Appeals are growing in the majority Catholic country not to forget their persecuted brethren. After demonstrations in Pakistan, signs of solidarity with Christians in Orissa, Karnataka, and Jharkand are coming from the Philippines as well.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The archbishop of Palo, Jose Serofia Palma, has written a message to call upon bishops, priests, religious, and laity to pray for the persecuted Christians in India. The Filipino prelate addresses his appeal above all to the faithful of his diocese on the island of Leyte, where more than a million Catholics live. But the appeal for daily prayers on behalf of the Christians persecuted by Hindu extremism is addressed to all Catholics in the Philippines, who represent more than 80% of the population there.

The initiative of the bishop, who is a member of the commission for international Eucharistic congresses at the Filipino bishops' conference, demonstrates the solidarity of Catholics in the country with the Christians of India.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, the mother general of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation recalls the efforts of her congregation in praying for the community of Orissa, Karnataka, and Jharkand. Sister Mary Luz F. Mijares comments on events in recent months, affirming that "it is a matter of sadness that Hindu radical are persecuting Christians in India, where the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of religion."

"We Filipinos must include India and our fellow Christians there in our daily prayers," Rene Q. Bas, a writer for the Manila Times, tells AsiaNews. "What a great pity that at the time that India has proved to be the equal of the West and China in scientific prowess some of its people are plumbing the depths of religious intolerance. It’s no longer just in the state of Orissa where Hindu mobs have been attacking Christians, burning churches, convents and homes - and raping nuns."

Solidarity with the persecuted communities of India is widespread among Filipino Catholics. One example is provided by the parishioners of the neighborhood of Tondo, one of the poorest in the capital, Manila. Fr. Ferie Fajordoha says that for some time, his parishioners have been praying for their persecuted Indian brethren during the Mass.

The appeal for prayer and demonstrations of concern by Filipino Catholics for the Christians of India are added to those that have come in recent days from Pakistan. On Sunday the 19th, in the capital of Islamabad, groups of Christians demonstrated their solidarity with their Indian brethren, and condemned the violence perpetrated by Hindu fundamentalists.