02/23/2018, 15.16
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Indian Church celebrates the day of prayer and fasting for peace

by Nirmala Carvalho

Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for the resolution all conflicts, in particular for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Syro-Malankara Church met in Trivandrum cathedral, in Kerala. Sister Meena Barwa, raped by Hindu radicals, prays "for peace in Kandhamal".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Today the Indian Church, in communion with the universal Church, celebrated the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace, particularly for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the call by Pope Francis during the Angelus on 4 February.

“Due to wars, infighting, human greed, selfishness and poverty, there is no peace and tranquility in society. People have lost the peace needed to survive,” said Card Baselios Cleemis, speaking to AsiaNews.

"In light of the tragic continuation of conflicts in different parts of the world, the Holy Father asked Christians all over the world to gather in prayer on the first Friday of Lent,” noted Mgr Cleemis, who is the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church, one of the three Catholic rites in India.

"Peace is a gift from God", he added. All Syrian-Malankara bishops gathered today for the occasion at the Cathedral of St Mary in Trivandrum, Kerala, to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Geevarghese Mar Ivanios. The Servant of God and founder of the Syrian-Malankara Church was one of the main promoters of the union with the Catholics of Latin rite.

Card Cleemis called on "all people of good will to participate, each in their own way, in the places where they live".

"We pray for peace. [but] Only God can give a stable and sustainable peace. We call on God to bring peace to Asia, especially in places where there are difficulties. We also ask people to pray for our India."

“In response to Pope Francis’s call, today in Jhodpur (Madhya Pradesh), I will Fast and offer prayers for the resolution of conflicts and peace,” said Akhtarul Wasey, president of the Maulana Azad University in Jhodpur.

“Pope Francis is a holy person,” he added, “a person of compassion, with genuine feelings of anguish, anxiety and concerns for every community around the globe, who sympathises and supports all victims of marginalisation, poverty, suffering and violence, and injustice in every region and religion."

Sister Meena Barwa is another Indian who responded to the pope's invitation. She is also the niece of Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. At the begging of the anti-Christian pogrom in Odisha (Orissa) in August 2008, she was raped by a group of Hindu radicals.

“Today,” she said, “I'm actively responding to the Holy Father's invitation to participate in the day of fast and prayer for peace but for me, deep in my heart there is the desire for peace in Kandhamal, for peace in our Kandhamal society, peace among peoples of different communities and religions, so that we may respect each other as persons and live together in harmony and peace."

Kandhamal is the district in Odisha that was hardest hit by the 2008 violence.

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