Orissa State: demolition order for churches is revoked
by Nirmala Carvalho
Kandhamal district makes the announcement. However the Catholic archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, archbishop John Barwa, warns: “nevertheless local officials continue to torment Christians”. A prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – No church building in Kandhamal (Orissa) will be demolished. District collector Rajesh Prabhakar Patil in person reassured those present at a meeting with a delegation of Christians. However for the Catholic archbishop of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (Cuttack-Bhubaneswar is Orissa state capital), “ verbal guarantees on the part of the district collector have not stopped local officials who continue to torment our people”. In the month of August, on the occasion of anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal, the state government issued demolition orders for five church buildings. The orders were made on the basis of a ruling that the churches were built (in 1942) on state owned land and without permission.
"Sadly- the Catholic Archbishop remarks - the Constitutional guarantees do not apply in our Kandhamal district, there is scant reverence for public places of Christian worship. And while we forgive our aggressors and pray for those who have victimised our people, destroyed churches and torched our houses, yet it is a matter of Justice for our people that we are striving."
Revocation of demolition orders comes too late for Betticola parish, for some time targeted by Hindu extremists. The Archbishop says – “our priests in Betticola parish had been beaten often in the past and today, unfortunately the Parish no longer exists”. Better fortune has fallen to Nandagiri parish in the G. Udayagiri Tahasil area. On 17 August the Christian community there had been ordered by the authorities to suspend the construction of small building . Fortunately since June 2009, no less than 54 Catholic families and 17 Pentecostal families scattered after anti-Christian violence in 2008, have been resettled. The people also built a community- hall and although that community hall was served a ‘demolition notice’, the Collector said the demolition will not taken place.
Archbishop Barwa concludes with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "Today is the Feast of our Lady of Sorrows, and our Blessed Mother who suffered the bitter anguish of the sufferings of Her Son, is interceding for us and for our people and importantly for the Secular Credentials of India not to be tarnished."