Mother Teresa's successor appeals for peace in Orissa

Mother Teresa's successor appeals for peace in Orissa As anti-Christian violence continues to grip the state of Orissa, Mother Teresa's successor, Sr Nirmala, issued an appeal yesterday saying religion is "meant to be a work of love."

She said: "Let us put down the weapon of hatred and violence, and reach out in love to each other following the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, in order to build the civilization of love in India and in the world." In the crisis, triggered by the murder of Hindu leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, by Maoist insurgents, more than 20 people have been killed, hundreds wounded, 45 churches burned, social centres, hostels, orphanages, and hospitals have been ransacked and destroyed, and hundreds of homes have been burned. Tens of thousands of people who fled from the violence are living in the forests or in shelters set up by the local government.

"Religion is meant to be a work of love. It is not meant to destroy peace and unity. Works of love are works of peace. Let us use religion to become one heart full of love in the heart of God," Sr Nirmala said quoting Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

"In the name of God and in the name of our own humanity, created for greater things, to love and to be loved eternally, and in the name of our country and its noble heritage, and in the name of the poor, the children, and all our suffering brothers and sisters who are victims of this senseless violence and destruction, I make this appeal: let us pray, opening our mind and heart to the light and love of God.

"Let us put down the weapon of hatred and violence and put on the armour of love. Let us forgive one another and ask forgiveness from one another for the wrong we have done to each other and reach out in love to each other. "Let us pray for the repose of the souls of Swami Laxamananda Saraswati and his four associates and all our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives during this violence. Let us pray for each other and ask our Mother, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to pray for us so that we may become channels of God's own peace, love and joy to one another and builders of the civilisation of love" Sr Nirmala concluded.

Meanwhile, The Indian Catholic reports the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) said the Church "is shocked" to learn that the Christians are "forced to become Hindus and attack their own churches in which they have been worshiping so long." The bishops appealed to the Indian government to "act firmly against those who are taking law into their hands and safeguard Christians, their houses and institutions."

"We also request the state administration to be vigilant at the forced re-conversion issue since it is a gross violation of their constitutional right to live in the country without fear," said the bishops' statement. Last night, Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Ankamaly, CBCI President, asked the Catholic community to observe a day of prayer and fasting on Sunday, September 7, 2008 for the promotion of communal harmony and peace in India.

Source: Indian Catholic/CBCI

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