Nuncio encourages persecuted Church in India

18 Feb 2009

By The Record

MYSORE, India (CNS) – The apostolic nuncio to India has urged the country’s Latin-rite bishops not to let persecution discourage India’s Catholics.

A Missionaries of Charity sister chats with refugees during a Christmas lunch at a camp in India’s Orissa state in 2008 where Hindus displaced approximately 50,000 people, mostly Christians, in sectarian violence. Photo: CNS

ositive call for strengthening faith at all levels, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the nuncio, told the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.
Archbishop Lopez acknowledged that the Church is being tested by a period of suffering and confusion, but he urged the bishops to personify the word of God through personal witness. The nuncio said the Gospel, the source of Christian life, should inspire Christians to live in hope amid such trials.
The archbishop urged India’s bishops to train seminarians to face persecuting forces with faith and spirituality. He also encouraged the church to form laity through small Christian communities, Catholic charismatic renewal and other programs.
“An integral faith formation at all levels is the only answer to the anti-Church violence in India,” the archbishop said.
Hindu fanatic violence against Christians erupted in several places across India in 2008. The worst brutality was in Orissa state, in eastern India, where seven weeks of violence claimed at least 60 lives and displaced another 50,000 people, mostly Christians. In September, Hindu extremists also attacked at least 24 churches in Karnataka.
The meeting is only for Latin-rite bishops, who head 128 of India’s 160 dioceses. The other dioceses belong to the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches, which are among the 22 Eastern Catholic churches. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India is comprised of prelates from all three rites.