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Faith grows amid persecution, says Orissa prelate

Catholic World News - May 20, 2011

Nearly three years after the anti-Christian pogrom that left 100 dead and over 50,000 homeless, the leading prelate in the eastern Indian state of Orissa told the Fides news agency that Hindu fundamentalists continue to persecute Christians there.

“It must be said that massacres like those of 2008 do not occur today,” said Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. “But Christians are terrified and cannot return to their homes. There is a subtle form of oppression and intimidation carried out quite openly by the Hindu extremist groups. It often happens in rural villages, where continuing threats and violence that are often released by the national news as the case of the Christian girl raped and murdered.”

“The police did and do not protect us,” he added. “As Christians, at the moment, we feel are abandoned by the institutions.”

“Persecution exists; we face many challenges, not without concerns,” Archbishop Barwa emphasized. “But we believe that persecution is part of our Christian vocation and Christian life. We are not afraid, but we live it as a blessing from God. We know that where there is persecution, faith is strengthened, and today I am proud to say that faith in my people is strengthening. The blood shed for the faith in Christ is always the seed for new Christians: in Orissa the number of Christians is increasing.”

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