ASIA/INDIA - Bihar Centre for inter-religious prayer and dialogue to promote friendship and co-operation among people of different faiths

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Vatican City (Fides Service) - Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Jainists are invited to use the same place of prayer in the state of Bihar, recently the scene of inter-religious violence. This is happening thanks to the creation of an inter-religious Prayer Centre near the village of Bettiah.
Despite attacks and aggression by fundamentalists, the local Catholic Church is determined to continue along the path of inter-religious dialogue Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, President of the Indian Bishops’ Conference told Fides with regard to episodes of anti-Christian violence the north eastern state of Bihar over the past month. To put into practice the desire for cooperation and friendship in the name of God, the local Catholic community thought of opening this special Centre recently inaugurated by Bettiah diocesan vicar Mgr. Jerome Durack.
Besides the chapel for Mass for Catholics, the Centre has rooms where people of other religions are welcome to pray as well as a large hall for inter-religious prayer meetings to organise in collaboration with local Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist leaders.
The Centre is built around the Sacred Heart Chapel for thirty years a point of reference for Catholics and people of other faiths and famous for graces and miracles received. Since it is so popular with non Christians the local Catholic authorities thought the shrine could well be made into an inter-religious Centre for prayer and dialogue.
It is hoped that the experience of Bettiah Prayer Centre will help spread a culture of tolerance, co-operation and friendship among people of all faiths and thwart the recent tendency towards in religious intolerance in Bihar. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/6/2005, righe 23 parole 246)