Wednesday, 8 October 2003

Kathmandu (Fides Service) – Despite a situation of fear and tension the Catholic community in Nepal continues its work of evangelisation, human promotion and education. In the small mountain kingdom there are about 6,000 Catholics gathered in the Apostolic Prefecture established in 1996 and assisted by Jesuit Fathers and Sisters of various congregations.
The local people are still shocked by the recent attack on Okhrey Mission at Dharan, 500 km south of Kathmandu where the Loreto Sisters run a Loreto Day-Care Centre providing medical treatment and distributing medicines to the poor. The Centre was torched on 19 September by Maoist rebels. The attack came during the night: no one was killed because the sisters were not there at the time but the Centre’s structures, equipment and medical supplies were totally destroyed and the Sisters are unable to provide assistance to the people. The Sisters cannot go back to Okhrey because it is too dangerous: in fact the rebels left threatening leaflets warning the nuns not to come back.
The Church has not been unaffected by clashes in recent years between Maoist rebels and the government troops, a civil war in which in seven years at least 8,000 people have been killed. In fact three Catholic schools in mountainous areas had to close for two years after receiving threats. According to Father Pius Permana Pro-Prefect Apostolic in Nepal, “despite the risks in pastoral work, Catholic priests, nuns and laity in Nepal will go ahead with their work, particularly in the field education, keeping of course the rules of good sense and prudence”. The local Church runs 23 schools in Nepal and most of the pupils are non Christians. PA (Fides Service 8/10/2003 EM lines 42 Words 283)