For Orissa Bishop, Christian unity promotes peace and justice
by Santosh Digal
Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil reiterates the need for a strong Christian identity in a land that has strong religious and spiritual traditions. The Church must care for everybody, but especially Dalits and tribal people who are among the poorest and most marginalised groups in society. Migration, poverty and unemployment are among the most urgent problems that must be solved.

Balasore (AsiaNews) - The Church in Orissa wants to promote an "inclusive" approach to "peace and justice", whose benefits ought to transcend local communities to embrace everyone, said Mgr Thiruthalil Thomas, Bishop of Balasore and president of the Bishops' Conference of Orissa, as he analysed the life of a community still bearing the signs of the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms. With that goal in mind, Christians need to be "united" because other (Christian) denominations often follow the lead of the Catholic community.

For Bishop Thiruthalil, the Church in Orissa, a land like the rest of India steeped with a "deep religiosity" and "strong traditions", needs a strong "identity".

Everyone should be motivated by a desire to promote the wellbeing of their fellow citizens, he said, especially in the case of "Dalits and tribal people", who often languish on the margins of society.

Poverty, land seizures, migration and unemployment are among the most urgent unresolved problems that need attention.

"In the coming years, it is even more important to strengthen the presence and action of the Church in poverty-stricken and marginalised areas," the prelate noted.

Despite the still open wounds inflicted in 2007 and 2008, the bishop remains optimistic for, in the history of the Church, problems and difficulties "have always strengthened our faith."

Hence, it is necessary to "persevere" amid the pressures and obstacles, ever putting our trust in God at times of crisis.

"There is still a long way to go," the prelate said in concluding, "if we want to make the Church more and more present as a union of different communities."