09/27/2008, 00.00
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Kandhamal, Hindu fanatics burn down house of sisters of Mother Teresa

by Nirmala Carvalho
On the evening of September 25, fundamentalists attacked and burned down the house of the Missionaries of Charity in the village of Sukananda. Sister M. Suma, the regional superior, prays for the "persecutors", that they may repent of their violence and "make peace with God" for their actions.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Last September 25, Hindu fundamentalists attacked and burned down the house of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in the village of Sukananda, district of Kandhamal.

Sister M. Suma, the regional superior of the order, is still reeling from the incident, and recalls the words spoken by Mother Teresa before her death: "When I am dead, I will not stay in paradise, but I will walk throughout the world, wherever darkness prevails, to illuminate it with the Light that comes from the love of God". The sister says that she finds "comfort" in these words, despite the "sufferings" and persecutions" suffered by the Christians in India.

"I am certain", the sister tells AsiaNews, "that Mother Teresa is here with us, and brings hope and comfort to those who have lost everything". Together with her fellow sisters, Sr. M. Suma prays for the "persecutors", that "they may repent of the violence they have committed", and may make "peace with God" for the violence, death, and destruction that they have caused toward "the Christians" in the district of Kandhamal. "We offer our sufferings for them", the sister continues, so that they may finally discover "the light that is Truth".

On Thursday, September 25, at about eleven in the evening, a crowd of 700 people poured into the streets - in violation of the curfew imposed by the authorities - armed with axes, swords, and iron bars, and attacked the house of the Missionaries of Charity in the village of Sukananda. Fortunately, the house was empty at the time. They Hindu fanatics destroyed the building and everything on the five acres of adjoining property. They also destroyed the local church, continuing their devastating fury until two o'clock on the morning of the 26th.

"There was no one at home", the sister continues, "because when the violence erupted against the Christians, we took our few belongings and moved to our house in Bhubaneshwar. We brought with us the tabernacle, the altar, and especially the Dalit and tribal girls whom we were sheltering; we left only a small image of Mother Teresa, who is the source and reason of our mission. At the moment of the assault, only our Mother was in the house".

Yesterday, Sr. M. Suma met with the governor of the state of Orissa, Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, to whom she confided that the attack was the work of "demonic forces"operating in the region; the governor said that he "agreed" with the sister. Solidarity with the sisters is also being expressed by the archbishop of Bhubaneshwar, Raphael Cheenath, who calls the religious of Mother Teresa "frontline missionaries", and for this reason more exposed to danger.

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