Christmas in India, amid security alarm and solidarity with Christians of Orissa
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Public celebrations for Christmas have been canceled for security reasons. The decision was made by the bishop of the diocese of Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh. Bishop Gerald Mathias has canceled the traditional performance dedicated to Christmas, which for a few years has been held in the courtyard of the cathedral of St. Joseph, attended by 50,000 people, including Hindu faithful.
The reasons for the decision are connected to the growing climate of tension, in view of the upcoming general election. The date of the election is projected to be between April and May of 2009. The vicar general of the diocese, Fr. Ignatius D’Souza, explains that "every time there are general elections, there are people wanting to inflame tensions," and the occasion of the festivities could become an opportunity for attacks.
The bishop of Lucknow has also suspended the traditional meeting with state authorities to exchange holiday greetings, and also the pre-Christmas and year-end meetings with the priests of the diocese.
The entire Indian Church is invited to celebrate Christmas in subdued tones. The instruction to avoid "ostentation" was given by the bishops' conference. The secretary general of the CBCI, Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, has called all of the faithful to the essence of the celebration, as a sign of "solidarity with the Christians of Orissa, and the pain our country is experiencing after the attack on Mumbai, in a spirit of fellowship with all the victims."