ASIA/NEPAL - Bomb blast in a Catholic school in Nepal: no casualties - the local Church carries on with its pastoral and service of education

Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Kathmandu (Fides Service) - “Institutes of education in Nepal, including Catholic schools, are closed at the moment because of the danger of attacks by Maoist guerrillas. The bomb which exploded in our school caused a lot of fear but no one was hurt. The rebels want to frighten people and so even in this difficult situation we will continue to offer them our pastoral care”. This is how Rev. Pius Perumana, pro-Vicar Apostolic in Nepal, described the situation in Nepal after a bomb blast in the St Therese the Little Flower Catholic School in eastern Nepal. The school had been closed a few days earlier but there were some children in the playground when the bomb exploded. The bomb went off in an empty classroom causing material damage but hurting no one.
The school, known and held in high esteem for the high quality of its education, has 800 pupils of all grades from kindergarten to high school. The staff is composed of priests from India and local Sisters and lay people.
Father Pius said the parents are concerned about the future: “We know we are not a target for the Maoists. What they want is to spread fear they protest against the government. We carry on with our pastoral activity and social work in all serenity. For the moment all the country’s schools have been closed. But we hope to return to normality as soon as possible”. The territory of Nepal is militarised with road blocks everywhere.
There are 23 Catholic schools in Nepal with mostly non Christian pupils. Catholics missions and schools have been affected in the recent past due to the conflict between the Maoist rebels and the government, a civil war in which at least 9,000 lives have been lost.
Nepal has a population of 23 million including 6, 000 Catholics. The Catholic Mission was established in 1983 with territory taken from the diocese of Patna in India and entrusted to the care of the Jesuit Fathers. In 1996 it was raised to Apostolic Prefecture and today has four parishes.
The Catholic Church has no juridical status and is still considered as an Non governmental organisation by the government.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 8/6/2004 lines 34 words 365)