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Thursday, March 30, 2017
India: attacks on Catholics in Orissa escalate
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¬†Catholics living in the Indian state of Orissa are once again object of attacks being carried out by Hindu extremist groups against the local Catholic community. The Indian Bishops' Conference confirmed the news with Agenzia Fides, as they monitor the situation in the area of Kandhamal, where in the past months (especially December 2007-January 2008) violent attacks have been carried out against Catholics. The violence since the beginning of the year has already killed four Catholics, destroyed 730 houses, and leveled 95 churches. In recent days, a Jesuit residence, a church, and an orphanage were attacked and destroyed by Hindu militants of the fundamentalist group 'Vishwa Hindu Parishad,' infamous for its many violent acts. This new episode of violence has not killed or injured anyone, local Church sources said, however the acts of intimidation and discrimination continue, with the faithful being defenseless victims of an irrational violence that is steeped in anti-Christian hatred ≠ that not even the authorities or the police are able to tame. Archbishop Raphael Cheenath SVD, of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa, expressed his deep concern. The Archbishop contacted the local authorities, asking for immediate intervention in order to prevent further violence and reestablish order and security for all citizens. In recent days, the Indian bishops discussed the problem, observing that the Christians of Orissa, in spite of the creation of an ad hoc Committee to investigate the violence in December and January, were still the target of radical groups, subject to threats, intimidation, discrimination, abuse, and bullying. Many Christians have left their houses out of fear and prefer to live in the refugee camps offered by local authorities, even with the inhumane living conditions. In Orissa, the Indian state with a large presence of Hindu fundamentalist groups, the Church has always suffered. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbay, has also spoken out against the "organized attacks to destabilize the Church's presence in India" (Fides 21/4/2008). Many other Bishops and religious leaders have noted the intolerable and unjust discrimination of Christians, considering them "second-class citizens," depriving them of their basic rights and liberties, which are contained in India's Constitution. The Hindu leaders have been unable to control the extremist and radical groups and another outbreak of the 'Christian-phobia virus'. Source: Fides
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