Catholic Churches Attacked in India
In January three Catholic churches were attacked in Karnatak, a state in the south of India. According to the local media, as well as Christian representatives, these attacks are the reprisals announced by extremist Hindu groups who had threatened to attack the Church if the Indian government did not sufficiently sanction the recent aggressions (two of which caused deaths) against the very numerous Indian community that works in Australia.
On January 22 a group of Hindu extremists attempted to tear down a cross erected near the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the diocese of Karwar. According to the local television station, the cross was damaged but the resistance of the parishioners stopped it from being destroyed. Seven of the aggressors were arrested by the police. During the night of January 24 to 25 the Lourdes grotto of St. Anthony's church, again in the diocese of Karwar, was vandalized and the window panes protecting the statue of the Virgin were broken by stones. The final attack took place at Mysore in the early hours of January 25 when some unidentified persons destroyed a statue of the Blessed Virgin of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes situated in front of the church of the Holy Family in the parish of Inkal. Before that, last December 20, extremists, invoking the name of Hindu divinities, had ransacked a public feast organized by the Catholic community in the city of Gwalior to celebrate the Birth of Christ.
At the beginning of February a European delegation went to Orissa, a state in the eastern part of the country, in order to investigate antichristian violence which took place there in 2008. According to the available sources, the violence resulted in more than a hundred deaths and forced nearly 50,000 people to flee, priests and religious were maltreated, with rapes and public abominations. The investigators of the European commission were able to witness still present the climate of terror imposed by the Hindu extremists. At the refugee camp of Nandagari the delegates heard several victims who showed them the ruins of their villages and recounted the atrocities committed by the extremists and the threats they continue to make against them. "Around 10,000 persons continue to live outside the district of Kandhamal", in the state of Orissa, for they are too frightened to return to their villages, declared Bishop Raphael Cheenath, Catholic archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. The prelate also denounced the bad will of the local administration which failed in its mission of assuring the security of the population, letting a climate of fear and intimidation continue that prevents "justice being done" and abandoning the inhabitants, who are forced to live in extreme poverty. The European diplomatic delegation said it was "very disappointed" that it could not assist at the court proceedings in the special tribunals set up to judge those responsible for the antiChristian violence, reported the News Agency, Eglises en Asie. The verification of the judiciary system in the district was, however, one of the principal purposes of the mission.
In India, unlike in Muslim countries, the violence is provoked not so much by conversions as by the activity of Christians on behalf of the poor people who are at the bottom of the pyramid on which Hindu society is traditionally based.
The Christians, most of them Catholics, make up only 28 million of a population of more than a billion. The Catholic religion has been present there since the first century. In 52 St. Thomas landed on the Malabar coast in the western part of the country, where he founded the Malabar Church, and then went to the east coast where he died a martyr in 72. (Source : Eucharistie Sacrement de la Miséricorde/apic)
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