The Church in Distress: September 2008 Archives

The Persecution Continues

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AsiaNews is, without a doubt, the best source of information about the cruel sufferings of Christians being persecuted for their faith in the state of Orissa, India.

An Offering of Psalmody

Psalm 73, 1-7

O God, hast thou altogether abandoned us? Sheep of thy own pasturing, must we feel the fires of thy vengeance?

Bethink thee of the company thou hast gathered, long ago; of the tribe thou hast chosen to be thy own domain; of mount Sion, where thou hast thy dwelling-place.

Hither turn thy steps, where all is ruin irretrievable; see what havoc thy enemies have wrought in the holy place, how their malice has raged in thy very precincts, setting up its emblems for a trophy of conquest.

Blow after blow, like woodmen in the forest, they have plied their axes, brought it down, with pick and mallet, to the ground. They have set fire to thy sanctuary, sullied the dwelling-place of thy glory in the dust.

I have been moved to offer the long and often tortuous psalms of Matins for these men, women, and children in every way equal to the martyrs of ancient times. The cries of the psalmist become their prayer rising to the Father from all over the globe with the voice of the suffering Christ. Readers of Vultus Christi may want to join me in making a daily offering of psalmody for the Christians of Orissa.

Pogroms and Threats

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - There is no end to the tension in Orissa, where for two weeks a pogrom has been underway against Christians. Many of the faithful who have taken shelter in the refugee camps after their homes were destroyed and burned have found themselves threatened in the camps as well, where they should be protected by the police. The threats come from the Hindu radicals of the VHP (Viswa Hindu Parishad) and of the RSS (Rastriya Swyamsevak Sangh), who force the tribals to convert back to Hinduism, or suffer new violence. Some of the priests and their relatives have also been threatened, and as a sign of their "reconversion", they are shaved bald like sadhus (Hindu ascetics).


According to accounts sent to AsiaNews from Bhubaneshwar, the fundamentalist groups are also spreading through the villages and forcing the Christians to sign papers saying that they are "freely" returning to Hinduism. Those who refuse are beaten, and their homes are burned.

Sometimes - sources tell AsiaNews - as a sign of their "new life", they are forced to burn the churches and homes of other Christians.

And the destruction itself is becoming more "intelligent". Sometimes, instead of burning homes, the fundamentalists content themselves with taking all of the furniture and objects out of it, and destroying them. In this way, they say, they make the families poor and exclude them from reimbursement by the government, which has promised money for those who have had their homes burned. This method is also useful in case the fundamentalists are arrested by the police: arson is punishable with years in prison, but the distruction of objects with only a few months.

In the area of Kandhamal, a list has been drawn up of Catholic priests and pastors accused of being the killers of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the radical Hindu leader killed last August 23 by Maoist guerrillas, whose death the Hindus continue to blame on the Christians.


About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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