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Odisha’s Archbishop proud of Christians 5 years after persecution

August 24, 2013 - As Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state on Sunday mark the 5th anniversary of the start of the terrible anti-Christian violence, the local archbishop takes great pride in the unshakable faith and resilience of the Christians in picking themselves up again and rebuilding homes, churches and shattered lives. Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, under whose jurisdiction comes Kandhamal District, the epicenter of the ruthless violence that began in August 2008, issued a message ahead of Sunday’s anniversary. The orchestrated violence erupted with untold savagery, with Hindu extremists falsely blaming Christians for the August 23, murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, despite Maoist rebels claiming the assassination. The reign of terror on Christians began on August 25, and many are still awaiting justice and compensation. Archbishop Barwa recalled that some 400 villages had been purged of all Christians, more than 6000 houses, 340 Churches, village chapels, dispensaries, and schools were burnt and destroyed, thousands were injured, several women and young girls including a nun, gang raped, and around 60,000 men, women and children rendered homeless. Total number of 75 persons were brutally murdered. But after five years of the persecutions, Archbishop Barwa feels proud of the Christians of all denominations who, he said, are proud to be Christians and proud of their faith. He said the signs of this faith is evident particularly in the blossoming of religious and priestly vocations, with the region sending missionaries elsewhere. The persecutions have also brought greater unity among Christian denominations, who are calling for harmony and peace. Archbishop Barwas gratefully acknowledged the help Christians in Odisha have received in rebuilding themselves, and pledged the Church’s resolve to always promote peace, justice and hope for all.


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