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Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, August 29, 2008

Update on Religious Riots in Orrisa

I received the following update on the religious riots in Orrisa in my inbox.

This past Saturday (August 23rd) a very prominent Hindu Guru (i.e. spiritual leader) was found murdered in the city of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa (which is about 275 miles away from the city of Calcutta--which is where I'm staying right now). This spiritual leader was a very outspoken critic of conversions--which was happening for quite a while now in the state of Orissa. The Catholic Church has been growing steadily for quite a while now in Orissa, mainly due to the really awesome work of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity and many other groups working in the region. Catholics have started schools, hospitals, clinics, leper colonies, etc. that all serve the poorest of the poor--the low-caste untouchables who are treated as "outcasts" in Hindu circles. Many low-caste untouchables living in the state of Orissa have witnessed the love of Christ, and have subsequently given their lives over to Christ, by joining the Catholic Church.

Although no one knows who killed this spiritual leader or what was the motive behind the murder, Hindu extremists have declared that Christians (especially Catholics) must have been behind the act because this particular spiritual leader was an outspoken critic of Hindus converting to Christianity. However, there is absolutely no evidence for this, and the government of India is saying that Maoists (i.e. Communists) are behind the murder. But nevertheless, the rumors that Christians have been behind the murder is spreading like wildfire, and in the past three days, mobs of militant Hindus have been burning/bombing churches, beating/killing priests, nuns, and members of the lay faithful. The Catholic Church which has the largest presence among the Christian denominations in the region has sadly taken the brunt of this violence. As we speak, the violence is escalating. Yet, news reports are not really reporting the whole story--because news sources are often heavily biased (often favoring the Hindu viewpoint). Sadly, no one knows what the real situation is regarding Christians in Orissa right now.

However, I have learned of some information regarding the situation through the Missionaries of Charity sisters here in Calcutta. Some of the of the Missionary of Charity sisters (hereafter abbreviated as MC sisters) who are in Orissa have sent word to Sister Nirmala Joshi (the successor of Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity) regarding the current sitation. MC sisters in the region have witnessed truckloads of militant Hindus swarming into Christian villages, and slitting throats of innocent Catholic Christians (of all ages) as they run for their life. Many MC sisters, brothers, and consecrated religious have abandoned their convents and fled to the jungles to go into hiding. Hindus have swarmed into Catholic (and other Christian) schools and burned teachers, principals, etc. to death. This breaks my heart. Please pray for an end to this madness. All because of ridiculous rumors that Christians killed this spiritual guru (and there's no evidence for that at all!).

In an interesting twist however, one leper colony run by the Missionaries of Charity was spared destruction. The MC sisters were afraid for their lives, and for the lives of all of the lepers who were staying in the colony. Yet, the lepers told the sisters that they would lay down their lives for these MC sisters, because the MC sisters have given the lepers hope and love. When truckloads of militant Hindus (mainly members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad--a fundamentalist worldwide Hindu association) came to roundup and kill all of the MC sisters, the lepers told the Hindu militants to see the good work that the sisters were doing. When the militants saw all of the good work the Missionaries of Charity were doing, they actually turned and left--sparing the lives of the sisters. So God saved the lives of this group of sisters!!! And the poor people actually came to the help of the sisters!

The bishops of India have pleaded with the Catholic faithful to NOT retaliate and to be strong, and courageous in the face of great persecution. As of yet, the Christians have NOT retaliated (thanks be to God). The bishops have declared a statement saying that the Church condemns the murder of this famous Hindu spiritual leader. Yet, this statement has not calmed tensions. The bishops all over India are asking Christians everywhere to pray ardently to God, Our Father, for an end to the violence. Hundreds of parishes all over India have begun 24 hour nonstop Eucharistic Adoration to ask the Lord for healing for ALL groups hurt by this. Many parishes in Calcutta have begun nonstop Eucharistic Adoration for peace in India, and for end to this communal conflict.

Please pray that the violence ends, and does not spread to the rest of India. Please pray for our Protestant brothers and sisters as well (they are also suffering greatly in this anti-Christian uprising... Protestant Churches are also being targeted and burned, but I unfortunately do not know about the exact situation of Protestants right now, because the only news I'm getting is from the MCs who only really know about what's happening to Catholic parishes). Christians in general are a small minority in India, and because we're small, and we're "different," such persecution does happen. And last of all, please pray for the Hindus who are obviously hurt and angered over the death of their prominent spiritual leader, and who are good people deep down inside, but are just blinded by emotions right now. We are all children of God, and it breaks God's heart to see us fighting like this.


In addition to this email I received a second email that elaborated on the damage:

Number of Deaths district wise

Kandhamal District -12
Barakhama 6
Tiangia 2 (2 seriously injured)
Petapanga 1 (Raikia)
Tikaballi 1
Bodimunda 1
Bakingia 1
Bargard District- 1
Padanpur 1(Kantapali)


Number of Church destroyed
Petapanga Church
Mondakia Church
Catholic Church Rotangia
Believers church Ratingia
Diocese Church Ratingia
Believers Church Gimangia
Diocese Church Gimangia
Mdahukia Church
Catholic Church Raikia
Catholic Church Badimunda
Pentocastal Church Badimunda
Catholic Church Breka
Pentocastal Church Breka
Catholic Church Pobingia
Catholic church Srasanaanda
Catholic Church, Phulbani
Catholic Church, Betticola
Catholic Church Balliguda
Catholic Church Sankrakhol
R.C. Church Kanjamedi
Diocese Church Kanjamedi
Pentecostal Church Kanjamedi
Pentecostal Church Jugapadar, Nuagam
Baptist Church Tumudiband
Pentecostal Church Tumudiband
Two Churches in Narayani patna
Catholic Church Muniguda
Catholic Church Padanpur
Church in Dhanpur
Catholic Church Tiangia
Baptist Church Tiangia
Catholic Church Gabindapali
Catholic Church Padua
Catholic Church Maliput
Catholic Church Duburi
Pentecostal Church, Tiangia
Catholic Church Modhupur
Catholic Church Nilungia
Pentecostal Church Nilungia
Catholic Church Boipariguda

Houses damaged

1. Balliguda Mundasahi
2. Raikia-17 houses
3. Badimunda- 9
4. Gimangia-3
5. Gumagarh-25
6. Tiangia-Pdisuballi, Majumaha, Budedipada, Kolanaju, Mundanaju, Sipaeju, Laburi 160
7. Beticola-10
8. Nilungia – 15
9. Balliguda Dumudisahi
10. Balliguda Hatpada Sahi
11. Raikia, Chunipalli
12. Mondakia, Bakingkia
13. Breaka (Sukanda)
14. Bodimunda
15. Rotingia
16. Sankharkhole
17. Tikaballi

Convents
St. Joseph’s Convent, Sankharkhole
St. Anne’s Convent, Pobinga
Mt. Carmel Convent, Balliguda
St. Anne’s Convent, Padangi

Hostels
Padangi 2
Pobigia -2
Balliguda Convent -1

Institutions
Pastoral Centre, Konjamendi
Janavikas
Poly Shree, Paburia
Gramya Pragati, Balliguda
Ajka, Raikia
Xavier Institution of Mangament
NISWASS, Bhubaneswar & Phulbani


Lastly the as a mark of protest all Catholic schools and institutions across the country will be closed on Friday the 29th August 2008. In addition to this the Bombay Catholic Sabah is organizing a protest rally and meeting at the St. Micheal Auditorium in Mahim on the 29th August 2008 at 6:30 pm

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