Kandhamal (Agenzia Fides) - "We appreciate and admire the authentic faith of the people of Orissa and of the faithful of Kandhamal, who remained firm in their faith even in the time of persecution, for the love of Jesus Christ", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Maria Alphonse Kuli Kuzhithurai, representative of the Catholic Priests Conference of India (CPCI), who led a delegation of 36 diocesan priests from different parts of India, visiting the state of Orissa, to meet the Christians who survived the anti-Christian violence in the district of Kandhamal in 2008, on the tenth anniversary of those massacres.
The priests, led by Fr. Lawrence Culas, visited several villages where displaced people are still present, including that of Tiangia, the most severely affected Catholic village, which suffered numerous deaths in the time of anti-Christian violence in 2008. "We are grateful to God that the priests from different parts of India are with us today to share our pain and suffering: this is another proof that God never abandons us", said Catholic Anakleta Nayak to the visitors.
"It is necessary to affirm at all levels that the current condition of Christian survivors in Orissa needs economic, social and educational assistance. These people still suffer and deserve more care and attention from the authorities", said Fr. Kuzhithurai. The group of priests stopped to pray in the church of Our Lady of Charity, in Raikia, devastated by vandals in 2004.
The priests then went to the Divya Jyoti Pastoral Center, a pastoral center of the diocese of Cuttack-Bubaneswar, where in 2008 the serious episode of public humiliation and group rape on a Catholic nun took place, in the presence of the police. The group of priests is planning to "extend educational support to poor children in the district of Kandhamal and to contribute to legal assistance for cases still pending in court", reported Fr. Augustine Singh, another of the priests present.
The Conference of Catholic Priests of India is an association of the clergy established in 1987, with the aim of promoting justice, peace, unity and brotherhood in Indian society. In 2018 the Conference awarded an award to Fr. Ajaya Singh, Catholic priest of Kandhamal, of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar "for the passionate defense of human rights and justice, in favor of the oppressed and marginalized". (PN) (Agenzia Fides, 27/9/2018)