Christianity In India

Jesus offered Thomas, the Apostle to feel His wounds.

New Delhi (Aharon Daniel) :About 2.5% of India’s population are Christians. Christianity arrived in India almost about the same period as it arrived in Europe, meaning about 2000 years ago. Christianity originates in Israel. The first Christians were Jews and in the beginning Christianity was seen as a Jewish cult. Most of the Apostles of Christians acted in Europe to convert the Europeans to Christianity. But one of the Apostles, St. Judas Thomas, arrived in India and converted Indians to Christianity. St. Thomas was a carpenter and a disciple of Jesus. He was brought to India by a merchant to build a temple. St. Thomas arrived in Kerala, in south India in 52 AD. He succeeded in converting local Indians to Christianity. His converts were called Syrian Christians. One assumption says that some of the Syrian Christians were actually Jews converted by St. Judas Thomas to Christianity. The disciples of Jesus at first intended to convince the Jews to adopt the philosophy of Jesus as new Judaism. Later on other Christian saints arrived to India as missioners. But most of the Indian were converted to Christianity by the missionaries who arrived in India with the European powers from 15th century. The European powers arrived in India for commercial reasons, especially spices. But they also started converting local Indians to Christianity. Five European countries sent their representatives to India, Great Britain; France; Denmark; Netherlands and Portugal. Of the five European powers the Portuguese were most enthusiast to baptize Indians. The Portuguese were the first European power to arrive in India. Their first ship, under the leadership of Vasco DaGama, arrived in south India in 1498 after it had circled the whole continent of Africa. The Portuguese inspired by the Pope’s order to baptize people around the world not only fought wars against the local Indian rulers, but they even tried to enforced their Roman Catholic prayers on Syrian Christians. After many wars the Portuguese were defeated by local rulers and they had only one big pocket of control in India, Goa. The Portuguese not only fought the Indian rulers, but they also fought against other European powers in India especially Dutch and English. Many Portuguese churches in Kerala were turned into English and Dutch churches after they were captured by these powers. The English missionaries started acting in India at a much later period. The British, unlike the Portuguese, didn’t allow the missionaries to enter their territory in the beginning. The British arrived in India in 1600 and they allowed the missionaries to enter their territory only from 1813. The British allowed different churches to establish missionaries in their territory. The missionaries didn’t only spread Christianity, but they also did humanitarian deeds giving the needy basic necessities of life like food, clothes and shelter. The missionaries also built schools in India and many of them even today have Christian or European originated name. The British church missionaries succeeded less than the Portuguese in converting Indians to Christianity, but unlike the Portuguese who tried to enforce Christianity, these Protestant converts were voluntary. The Portuguese were also aware of the Indian custom according to which the wife followed her husband’s faith and therefore married their men to Indian women. There are about 30 million Christians in India. The major centers of Christianity in India are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Manipur and Mizoram. There is also a big community of Christians in Mumbai & New Delhi. The main division of Christians in India is like in the Christian world, Protestants and Catholic. There are also different denomination among them, Syrian Church, Armenian Church, Anglican Church and others. Most of the India Christians were converted by the Portuguese. There is also an Anglo-Indian community in India.
Curfew After Christians-Hindus Clash In Batala

Jalandhar : The gate, where the controversial photograph of Jesus Christ (In it Jesus has a Cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other) was displayed shamelessly with sacred Gurus of other Sects. The name of Vijay Chopra can be seen under the controvrsial photographs.

Batala (Punjab), Feb 21 (PTI) : Members of Christian and Hindu communities clashed and indulged in vandalising public property here today over publication of a picture of Jesus Christ in an allegedly objectionable manner, prompting authorities to clamp an indefinite curfew. Police said members of the Christian community took out a protest march through the town during which some of them turned violent and set afire six two-wheelers, damaged three buses, a shopping mall and around 50 shops in different areas. They were protesting against the publication of a picture of Jesus Christ in a book by a Delhi-based publisher recently which was reproduced in some newspapers in the state. Protestors belonging to Hindu community also took to the streets and tried to set on fire a church, police said adding, the damage to the place of worship was minimal as the fire brigade and the police reached the spot in time. Christian organisations in a protest against ill-representation of a picture of Jesus Christ on a hording of Ram Naumi poster blocked traffic in the city, demanding immediate arrest of those guilty in the case. Meanwhile, the women and youth wing of the Punjab Christians Movement warned to give a Punjab bandh call, if the government failed to arrest the culprits within the stipulated time. The police resorted to a mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd. Later, leaders of various Christian organisations held a meeting with Superintendent of Police (City-I) S.K. Kalia and gave a two-day ultimatum to the administration to arrest those guilty in the case. The protests were called off only after the administration ensured to make the arrests. People associated with various Christian organisations on Friday gathered in the Mission compound in Adarsh Nagar to demand arrest of the guilty persons. The protesters held a picket at Guru Nanak Mission Chowk, leading to a traffic jam. Punjab Christians Movement president Hameed Masih, general secretary Tersem Kahnuwal, district president of youth wing Sanowar Bhatti and general secretary Jonny Masih were present during the protests. Kalia said cases had been registered against the culprits, adding that some people were instigating communal feeling to serve their vested interests. He further said that the police had started to carry out raids in order to ensure early arrest of the culprits.

Who is the main accused in Punjab :

Actually, a poster erupted the controversy. The poster (see photograph) was prepared by a so-called religious organization, which is owned by a so-called social activist Mr. Vijay Chopra. It is the same Vijay Chopra who is the proprietor of Hind Samachar Group of Publications. The publication publishes three newspaper in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu languages. These papers always incite the feelings of the conservative Hindus against all the minorities i.e. Christians, Muslims etc. The controversial poster was prepared on the occasion of Ram Navmi. Hind Samachar Group of Publications get the poster prepared. The controversial photograph of Jesus was knowingly picked up from the Internet. Now, he requested the Indian media not to publish/telecast/broadcast this news, that is why the media of mainstream didn't pick the news as prominently as it should be. Will Vijay Chopra tell, why only this photo was picked up out of the millions of other photographs of Jesus? Actually it was a conspiracy against the Christians. Should the registration of Hind Samachar Group of Publications not be cancelled? Should the passport of Vijay Chopra not be confiscated? Should all the countries not ban the entry of this outlawed person? So long as the registration of all three newspapers of Hind Samachar Group, the public should boycott those newspapers. The Christian nations must raise their voice against the highly condemnable act.
AP Pastor Charged With False Allegations

Secundrabad (Andhra Pradesh), Feb 2 (News Blaze) : Hindu fanatics stopped a birthday celebration at Jeedimetla village, Secunderabad consequently, the pastor who came for prayer is currently facing alleged fraud and fraudulent conversion charges. Sources reaching to All India Christian Council (AICC), the incident happened last night at around 9PM, a group of people claimed to be members of Hindu Vahini, a wing of Hindu fanatic group came and disturbed the birthday celebration of Mr. Ramesh’s son. The fanatics intruded Ramesh’s house and abused the Christian family. When Pastor Satyam was returning back home after the birthday celebration, the members of Hindu Vahini numbering more than 50 stopped him and abused him with false charges of force and fraudulent conversion. Meanwhile the fanatics called the police escort and in the presence of Assistant Sub-Inspector Mr. Nayak, the fanatics forced Pastor Satyam to eat the food offered to idols. Fanatics threatened when he refused and latter took him to the Petbashirabad police station and released him at 11:30PM. Pastor Satyam said, “Police officer on duty refused to register the complaint against the fanatics for the unlawful act of intruding into Ramesh’s house and clogging his son’s birthday celebration.” He further said, “We will approach higher police authorities if the police officers on duty continue to refuse to take the complaint.” Pastor Satyam is the senior pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church and also member of All India Christian Council involves in defending the human rights of Christians and oppressed Dalit communities in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The state branch of All India Christian Council is filling a complaint against the Hindu Vahini members for the unlawful act against Pastor Satyam and Mr. Ramesh.
11 Sentenced In Kandhamal Riots Case

Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Feb 1 : A court in Orissa on Saturday convicted 13 people and let off 35 others in three separate cases of rioting in Kandhamal district in 2008. Fast track court-I judge Subhendu Das sentenced 11 people to five years imprisonment and fined them Rs.2,000 each for torching the house of Gugula Das in Sorangada village on Sep 18, 2008. “Eleven people have been convicted in this case and 17 others have been let off for want of evidence against them,” P.K. Patra, the public prosecutor, said. If the convicts fail to pay the fine they will have to spend an additional three months in jail, the court ordered. In another case, two men were sentenced to five years in prison for arson in Ranjabadi and Mandaguda villages on August 28, 2008. “S. Pradhan and Manoj Pradhan were accused in this case. Cases were filed against them by M. Pradhan and others. Both of them have been convicted,” public prosecutor B.K. Pattnaik said. In the third case, 18 people were acquitted in a case of arson under Phiringia police station on August 26, 2008. Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on August 23, 2008. More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs that held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing, although police blamed the Maoists. The government has set up two fast track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.
Vast Merry Christmas Procession In Jalandhar

Jalandhar, December 21 (Peter Patras) : The local Christians organized a vast Merry Christmas Procession. The procession commenced at Company Bagh Chowk and it went through Bhagat Singh Chowk, Mai Hiran Gate and concluded again at Company Bagh. The Christian congregations of various Holy Churches particpated in it with a religious fervour & great enthusiasm. There were so many musical and religious glimpses and the zealous Christian men, women, children were seen upon a number of cars, scooters and tractor-trollies. On the occasion, the Pastors, Bishops and other Christian leaders including the Congregation prayed for the international peace & well-being of all.
Churches Agree To End ‘Sheep Stealing’

BHOPAL, Dec 15 (Indian Catholic): Churches in Madhya Pradesh have agreed not to poach each other’s members, saying this threatens Christian unity in a state where Christians already face sporadic violence. The practice of “sheep stealing” also confuses Christians and helps groups hostile toward them carry out their designs easily, concluded some 100 leaders of various Churches who met Dec. 12 in the state capital, Bhopal. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, head of the Catholic Church in the central Indian state, chaired the meeting organized by the archdiocese’s commission for ecumenism and dialogue. The prelate urged participants to refrain from trying to attract members of other Churches to their own. This creates divisions among Churches, he noted. The prelate also appealed for all denominations to refrain from badmouthing one another or other religious communities, especially during preaching, since this violates Christ’s teaching of love, harmony and peace. Asked about the gravity of the “sheep stealing” problem in Madhya Pradesh, Archbishop Cornelio told UCA News that no official survey has been conducted so far, but “it is very visible and threatening to Church unity.” He said there is also a worrying trend of small Church groups suddenly appearing in the state. These preach against other groups and then disappear quickly, leaving “enough fodder for trouble.” He said the main victims of these groups are the mainstream Churches. Reverend C.D. Singh of the Disciples Church, who attended the meeting, told UCA News conversion attempts from other denominations were the “biggest challenge” he has faced so far. People keep moving from one Church to another, he noted. “I went to the Churches where some of my parishioners had joined and I found the prayer services there were very effective. So I changed the prayer service in my Church to deter believers from leaving,” he said. Reverend Singh blamed priests and pastors for people changing their Church affiliations. Priests and pastors, he said, should lead exemplary lives and understand their people’s spiritual needs. Otherwise they will look for an alternative, he warned. Church of North India pastor Reverend Timothy Bankhede noted “a dangerous trend” of people setting up small sects and encouraging people to join them. The Protestant pastor says Churches should work together to fight extremist groups that want to destroy Christianity in the state, instead of creating confusion among their people through the pilfering of followers. Preaching the Gospel should target people who have not heard Christ’s message and not those who are already Christians, he asserted. Meeting participants agreed to set up a four-member committee to formulate measures to end interdenominational conversions and strengthen ecumenical harmony. Madhya Pradesh has witnessed many examples of anti-Christian violence since the pro-Hindu ruling Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in the state in December 2003.
Christian Sanskrit Scholar Waits Pension For 24 Years

Thrissur (Kerala), December 13 (Kerala Next) : It has been a 24 year-long wait for 84-year-old Christian P K Jose, a scholar and poet, who had dedicated his life to Sanskrit language and literature, to get his pension, but he has not yet given up hope. Populary known as Pappu Master, Jose has been waiting for his pension for over two decades,Pavaratty Sanskrit Vidyapeeta Protection Committee President Thomas Pavaratty said. He retired from the Guruvayur campus of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan Deemed University (RSSDU) at nearby Puranattukara after 45-years of service in 1985. The Sansthan’s campus was the former Sahitya Deepika Sanskrit College, Pavaratty near the temple town of Guruvayur. It was established in 1909 by his father Kuriakose Master, an ardent fan of Sanskrit language and literature. Kuriakose Master nurtured the college, despite opposition of the Church and majority community, when it was taboo for Non-Brahmins to learn the Vedic language of Sanskrit. Despite all odds, the College was elevated to an affiliated college of Madras University and he ran it smoothly for several years. Later, he donated the college, building and land to the Centre in his will in 1973 with the sole objective that the school ‘reverberate’ with Sanskrit slokas. The property donated by him now is worth at least Rs 25 crore at market value, Pavaratty said in a statement here today. It was taken over by RSSDU under the Union Human Resource Development Ministry in 1979 and later shifted to Puranattukara.
Un-principled Priests Lowered The Status Of Pastors In General

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (Kerala), Dec 10 (Union of Catholic Asian News) — A cardinal has expressed grave concern over the declining respect for priests in society. “In recent years, there has been a decline in the exalted position and recognition that priests used to receive traditionally in the Church and society,” wrote Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and head of the Syro-Malabar Church. He blamed “unprincipled and non-transparent activities” of some priests for lowering the status of priests in general. In a pastoral letter read in all Syro-Malabar parishes during the last Sunday Masses, the cardinal appealed to his people to pray for priests and respect them. In a separate letter to his priests, the cardinal urged them to witness Christ in their priestly life. “All of you, both as individuals and as a community of priests, must consider this issue seriously,” he stressed. The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches are Oriental Catholic Churches based in the southern state of Kerala, where Christians form 19 percent of 32 million people. The Indian Catholic Church also includes the Latin rite. According to Syro-Malabar spokesperson Father Paul Thelakat, the cardinal’s anguish is justified. The priest spoke of an increasingly consumerist mentality and lack of asceticism among priests. They should rather show a spirit of renunciation amid a “competitive market culture” that compels people to possess and exploit, he said. “This temptation of the world will affect priests unless they lead a spiritual and ascetic way of life,” he added, pointing out that the Church is facing such a trend all over the world. Father Thelakat said the cardinal was supposed to address a group of priests on Nov. 7, but could not as he was hospitalized after a heart attack. He thus decided to put his speech in writing and send it to his priests. In his letter, Cardinal Vithayathil also regretted a lack of information among priests, who he said do not make reading a priority. He urged priests to broaden their knowledge to better help people in their care. He wants priests to deepen their knowledge of the Bible, theology, philosophy, Church history, psychology and other subjects. “We should also make every effort to learn the documents the Church publishes from time to time, and to teach them to the people,” he wrote.
'Conversion Allegations Upon Christians Are For Political Gain'

BANGALORE, December 4 (Fr. Adolf Washington for Mangalorean.com): Over 500 priests and pastors from various Christian denominations registered participation at an ecumenical meeting December 1st at St. Marks Cathedral on MG Road in Bangalore. Presided over by Archbishop Bernard Moras, Bishop Samuel of the Belivers Church and Bishop Vasant Kumar of the CSI church, the meeting was attended by priests and pastors of the Catholic Church, Church of South India, Full Gospel Church, Believers Church, New LIfe Fellowship, Methodist, Jacobite, Church of Horeb, Baptist Church, Faith Prayer Assembly, Independent Churches, Marthoma, Syrian Orthodox and Touch India Ministries. The four hour long meeting assumes significance as this is the first ever meeting of priests and pastors of all denominations willing to come under the umbrella of Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human RIghts (KUCFHR) which was formed in September 2008 after a series of attacks on Christian Churches across Karnataka. Archbishop Bernard Moras, president of the Forum informed the gathering of the attempt by the government to pass an anti-conversion bill. Archbishop Bernard Moras under whose initiative the KUCFHR was formed, told the gathering that “I feel the attacks on our Churches was a sign from God that we need to come together. That is why we started the KUCFHR. The KUCFHR has a threefold common minimum programme that focuses on Faith, Ethics and Common programs. When we came together we made a resolve that all those who want to come under the banner of KUCFHR must decide not to indulge in any kind of induced or forced conversions”. The prelate however told the gathering that the issue of forced conversion was “blown out of proportion just to create animosity and insecurity between people of other religious groups against the Christian minority. These allegations are politically hued”. He added “If there were cases of forced conversion, it should be established clearly in a court of law. Blanket allegations against the Christian community at large, is only a willful attempt to create disharmony in society and to achieve political mileage” the archbishop said. “The Christian community has never been a threat to anyone. In fact, the services rendered by the Christian community to people of all relgious background, especially the poor and marginalized cannot go unnoticed. Only recently have we been demonized so much by false propaganda” the Archbishop said. “We have started this organisation not just to address the issue of attacks against the Christian Community, but also to assert our consitutional right to profess and peacefully propogate our Faith just as any other religious group enjoys the privilege. The KUCFHR will also address issues of Human Rights violations” Archbishop Moras said. Bishop Vasanth Kumar of the Church of South India said “We must thank God for the political climate that actually brought us together in unity. Those who indulged in political manipulations to keep the Christian denomination apart and in conflict with each other, did not realise that coming together was not an impossibility. The KUCFHR is a clear answer to those who thought we cannot come together as Christians of various denominations. As Christians, we have a command from Christ to proclaim the Gospel of Love to all people and as Indians, we have a Constitutional right to proclaim that message. Muslims, Jains, Buddhists and all minority communities enjoy this same privilege, But it is unfortunate that Christians have been victimized and falsely accused.” The Bishop matressed the need for “coming together for more programmes where we will gradually discover our common faith and overlook our minor differences in dogma and teaching”. Bishop Vasant expressed disappointment over some politicians who were using “religion as a tool for political gain”. He said, “If there are any internal politics within us, we will be able shed them when we look at the external politics working against the community”. Addressing the issue of Ecumenism, he observed “In world circles, we will have noticed that there are lesser theological debates and more debates and discussions on issues affecting humanity like AIDS, Enviromenet and Climate Change. This is an indication that we no longer see ourselves as a divided community, but rather a united community focussing on humanitaria issues”. Bishop Samuel of the Believers Church said, “The wave of suspicion created against the Christian community is deliberate with political overtones. However, persecution has been part and parcel of our Fatih experience. It is only when we stand together that we will strengthen each other. We have never indulged in any form of forcible conversion. Conversion is the outcome of a free decision of one who wants to change his faith or way of life, none of us have a right to indulge in forcible conversion. We preach a religion of love and forgiveness. I wonder why anyone should be against a religion that preaches love and forgiveness” the Bishop said. Jesuit Priest Fr. Ronnie Prabhu, Secretary of the Karnataka Commission for inter-religious dialogue and Ecumensim, co-ordinated the interactions. Secretary for the Commission for Ecumenism, Bangalore Archdiocese, Fr. JA Nathan also addressed the gathering. Journalist Anto Akara who authored “Khandamal- a blot on Indian Secularism” presented his book and shared his first hand experience of the travails of Christians in Orissa and the Government apathy. More frequent meetings are scheduled to take place to discuss issues affecting the community in Karnataka. A bigger gathering of an expected 1000 priests, pastors and laity from various denominations is scheduled to take place at St. Josephs High School on 13th December.
Twelve Sent Jail In Kandhamal Riot Case

BHUBANESWAR, November 30 (PTI) : A fast track court Saturday jailed 12 people for four years while acquitting two others in a 2008 Kandhamal riots case, an official said. Judge C.R. Das sentenced the 12 to concurrent jail terms of four years and one year and a Rs.2000 fine after convicting them of arson and unlawful assembly under sections 436 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Two other accused were acquitted for lack of evidence. “Twelve people have been convicted for torching the house and rice mill and looting the household valuables of Dubaraj Digal of Kharpiguda village under Baliguda police station area Aug 25, 2008,” public prosecutor P.K. Patra said. Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23 last year. More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, which held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing although police blamed the Maoists. The government has set up two fast track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.
Police Arrest Six Pastors In Karnataka

Kolar, November 27 (John Malhotra for Christian Today_India) : Police arrested six pastors and two believers who were dedicating a prayer hall in Kolar district of Karnataka. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the pastors and believers were arrested on a “false complaint” lodged by radical groups in Nangli village, Mulibagalu taluk. “The pastors were dedicating the new prayer hall this morning [Nov. 24], when radical groups barged in at 11:30 a.m., disrupted and stopped the service and accused the pastors and believers of indulging in forceful conversion,” reported the Bangalore-based advocacy group. At about 12:15 police arrived on the scene and took the pastors and believers to the Nangli Police Station for further questioning, it said. However, later in the evening, after the intervention of GCIC, the police held a conciliatory meeting and released the detained Christians. The pastors and believers belong to the Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) that has been ministering in Nangli for the last 19 years. The prayer hall was being dedicated for the worship of dozens of families and individuals of the fellowship. It was the kind gesture of Kondaram, a believer since the past 80 years, the worship place was being constructed. GCIC said it has appealed to the Chief Minister to uphold the Constitution of India and halt such unjustified attacks against the Christian community in Karnataka.
Indian Ministers Apprised Of Christians' Concerns

New Delhi, November 24 (Rev. Dr. Babu Joseph for Indian Catholic) : A Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) delegation led by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, the Secretary General of CBCI called on the Home Minister of India, Mr. P. Chidambaram and the Minister for Minority Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid to express some genuine concerns of the Christian community in India. The delegation included Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack- Bhubaneshwar, Bishop Charles Soreng of Hazaribagh, Fr. Babu Joseph, Spokesperson of the CBCI and Mr. P.I. Jose, Supreme Court Advocate. In the meeting with the Home Minister, the delegation apprised him of the latest development in Kandhamal and urged him to take appropriate measures to bring justice to the victims of communal violence. In a brief report presented to the Minister on the current situation in Kandhamal, the delegation highlighted the following issues: (1) laxity on the part of the District Administration in providing adequate building materials (2) danger of youth falling into the hands of lawless elements due to loss of personal belongings and financial security (3) malicious propaganda against Christians in Orissa, particularly in the local media (4) forceful conversion of Christians returning to the villages of Kandhamal (5) general social boycott of Christians in Kandhamal (6) vitiated atmosphere in the Fast Track Court premises due to strong presence of Sangh Parivar members threatening the witnesses and (7) inadequate preparation of the cases by police. The delegation also presented the draft of Christian Community’s observations on The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2005 and urged him to pass it without delay in the Parliament. There is a need for strong law that would serve as a true deterrent to those vitiating the communal amity and secular nature of India, the delegation suggested. In an another meeting with the Minister for Minority Affairs, the delegation expressed its concern over the Clause 21 of the Right to Education Act which requires that a school’s management committee should consist of representatives of teachers, parents and the local elected bodies. The Christian delegation told the Minister that such arrangement would obliterate the place and role of owner/manager of the institution which in turn infringes the right of minorities to administer education institutions. The delegation presented a memorandum to the Minister for Minority Affairs on matters affecting religious, non-profit organizations and institutions proposed by the Direct Taxes Code-2009 highlighting the Clauses in the Code which need modification for the welfare of the Christian Minority that is running religious and non profit organizations. The Minister for Minority Affairs too was apprised of the latest development in Kandhamal and the delegation urged him to use his good office to look into the concerns of the Christian community in Orissa.
Muslims Burn Christians' Properties In Egypt, Pastor Serious

Farshoot (Egypt), November 23 (Mary Abdel Masih for Assyrian International News Agency) — Since early morning on Saturday, November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot, as well as the neighboring villages of Kom Ahmar, Shakiki and Ezbet Waziri, has been the scene of ongoing Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christian inhabitants. The mob looted, vandalized and burnt Coptic property, while Copts hid indoors fearing to venture out. Reuters Cairo reported that a witness said “chaos is overwhelming (in the city).” The Violence is still going on. There are reports that seven Coptic women have been abducted. Hundreds of Muslim protesters on Saturday burnt Christian-owned shops in southern Egypt and attacked a police station where they believed a Christian accused of raping a Muslim girl was being held, a police official said. Witnesses said that nearly 3000 angry Muslims have congregated since the early morning in front of the Police Headquarters in Farshoot, in an effort to kidnap Girgis Baroumi while being transported to court to renew his detainment, in order to kill him. Bishop Kirollos said it was agreed with the family of the Muslim girl Yousra to await the Court decision “but they did not wait for that.” Coptic priest Rev. Benjamin Noshi was driving his car when the mob stopped and assaulted him, fracturing his skull. He is currently in hospital. By the evening most Coptic businesses were looted and burnt. “They are destroying the Coptic economy in these areas,” says Wagih Yacoub of Middle Eadt Christian Association. A witness said that some Coptic families were thrown out of their homes, which were occupied by Muslims. Although security forces were deployed, they are not taking any action to stop the violence, they are stationed to protect the Farshoot police headquarters after the angry mob pelted it with stones before going in and attacking the officers. Chief Investigating Officer Essam Hany was injured along with others. Witnesses said that the Police watched the mob but made no arrests and were just dispersing the mob from one street, only for them to appear in the next. The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse of a girl by 21 year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi, from Kom Ahmar, on Wednesday November 18, 2009. The 12-year-old Muslim girl has been identified as “Yousra.” Girgis is detained by the police pending investigations and awaiting results of forensics. Many Copts believe that the rape incident is by Muslims to use it as a pretext to start violence against them. In an interview with Free Copts, Bishop Kirollos said that the attacks were definitely preplanned and made use of the students from Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot. He also pointed out to the failing role of the security forces, which disappeared without giving proper justifications, despite several demands by the church to put an end to these grave violations against Christians and their property. He also added that even if the story of the indecent assault on the Muslim teenager was true, this was purely an individual incident and does not call for an attack on masses of peaceful Christians, who denounced this individual act which does not comply with Christian teachings. “So why the barbaric attacks by the mobs? and why have the security forces not stopped them?” Talking to Coptic News Bulletin, the Bishop said that after being informed of the accusations of the rape on Wednesday, he has taken the frightened Copts of the villages of Kom Ahmar and Shedid out of the village to safety. “However, Coptic-owned businesses, pharmacies and cars in Farshoot and Ezbet Waziri are completely destroyed,” he said. Rev. Elisha, Pastor of St. Michaels Church in Farshoot described Saturday’s violence as “similar to the Tartar Wars, they burnt down shops, pharmacies, broke down doors of homes and terrorized the inhabitants.” Commenting on the alleged rape incident, he said that it is doubtful, besides prosecution did not allow anyone to meet with the accused Copt. “The Farshoot investigating officer told me that the Muslim girl was only sure that her attacker wore a black jacket — nothing more.” “We have never been so frightened and humiliated as Christians in all our lives. The mob made wooden crosses and burnt them in the street,” according to one witness. “Our religion, and our Lord were openly insulted.” As no one is venturing into the streets, none of the Coptic inhabitants contacted were able to confirm if there were any losses in human lives, or the number of injured. Bishop Kirollos held an urgent meeting with all Coptic priests in the region, in view of the gravity of the situation. He gave instructions that no Sunday church services would be held on 11/22/09 fearing for the safety of the Christian congregations. “If the International Human Rights Organizations around the world keep quiet about what is happening to the Copts in Egypt, then they are of no use, they just use slogans, nothing more,” one witness lamented.
US Christian Leaders Unite On Political Issues

Washington, November 21 (LAURIE GOODSTEIN for The New York Times) : Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples. “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says. The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America. They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues. “We argue that there is a hierarchy of issues,” said Charles Colson, a prominent evangelical who founded Prison Fellowship after serving time in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. “A lot of the younger evangelicals say they’re all alike. We’re hoping to educate them that these are the three most important issues.” The document was written by Mr. Colson; Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who is Catholic; and the Rev. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, an evangelical interdenominational school on the campus of Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala. They convened a meeting of Christian leaders in Manhattan in September to present the document and gather suggestions. The 4,700-word document is called the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.” The New York Times obtained an advance copy. The document says, “We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.” Ira C. Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, said it was “fear-mongering” to suggest that religious institutions would be forced to do any of those things. He said they are protected by the First Amendment, and by conscience clauses that allow medical professionals and hospitals to opt out of performing certain procedures, and religious exemptions written into same-sex marriage bills. The most likely points of controversy, he said, could involve religious groups that provide social services to the public. Such organizations could be obligated to provide social services to gay people or provide spousal benefits to married gay employees. Mr. George, the legal scholar at Princeton University, argued that the conscience clauses and religious exemptions were insufficient, saying, “The dangers to religious liberty are very real.”
Thousands Of Christians Protest Rally In Delhi Under NDCC

Mr J D Seelam, Congress MP, addressing the gathering & A Dalit Christians' Rally in New Delhi on Wednesday.

New Delhi, November 19 (Fr. Anand Muttungal) : The issue of Scheduled Caste Status to those embraced Christianity and Islam became once again hot with the massive rally and Dharna held in Delhi yesterday. The rally was inaugurated by Delhi Archbishop Dr. Vincent Concessao and Catholic Bishops Conference general secretary Archbishop Dr. Stanislaus of Gandhinagar and Archbishop of Chennai. Thousands of people took part in the protest. The organizer of the Dharna National Dalit Christian Council,(NDCC), demanded that “the Para 3 of the Presidential Order in 1950 on SC Reservation be removed.” A large number of people addressed the gathering, prominent among those who addressed the gathering include Mr Oscar Fernandez, MP, Mr J D Seelam,MP, Mr Harsha Kumar, Members of Parliament from the ruling Congress Party, and Mr Ali Anwar, MP, Janatha Dal United, Jose K Mani, MP, Kerala Cong. The leaders unanimously voiced that injustice has been done to a section of the society based on religion. They assured that they will further strengthen the agitation against the Union Governments long silence on the issue. National Coordinator of NDCC and the one who approached the Supreme Court for Justice, Franklin Ceasar Thomas states that ‘this discrimination based on the paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders, 1950 goes against the letter and spirit of many articles of our Constitution. Article 15 says; ‘ The State shall not discriminate against any citizen only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them’. Article 25 further strengthens the same point, because it gives the right to all citizens of India to profess any religion according to his or her choice. This Article says, ‘ … all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.’ The third is the about the third paragraph of the Presidential Order 1950 itself. It states that the criterion to define ‘ the Scheduled Caste’, which reads: “Not withstanding anything contained in paragraph2, no person who professes a religion different from Hindu, shall be deemed to be a member of a ‘Scheduled Caste’…” so the religion was used as a criterion to define, who shall be Scheduled Caste.’ On the basis of that criterion all other people professing Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity and others were left out. But in 1956 and 1990 the third paragraph of the Presidential Order 1950 was amended by the Parliament to extend also the constitutional benefits to the ‘Dalit Sikhs’ and the Dalits Buddhists’ along with the ‘Dalit The NDCC says that ‘the reservation granted to the Scheduled Caste is based on that fact that those persons living with the humiliation of untouchability continues to be in the same status even though they change their religion. They do not live in the secured for Christians but live along with whom they were living. Their they face the same apathy even though they have changed their religion. So reservation should be granted to them also.” Major political parties in the country , CPI, CPI (M), BSP, SP, LJP, RJD, JD ( U ), JD ( S ), DMK, AIADMK, Telugu Desam Party, MDMK, PMK, Trinamool Congress, NCP, Shiromani Akalidal and some of the senior Congress Party leaders also have written letters to Prime Minister Shri. Manmohan Singh to extend Scheduled Caste Status to Christians and Muslims. Fr. Cosmon , Secretary to CBCI Commission for SC says, “It is to be noted that On 23.01.2008, the Additional Solicitor General of India had requested the Apex Court to grant eight weeks time to bringing reply with regard to the Writ Petitions. But still Union of India did not file any reply in the Supreme Court of India as per their Commitment , now about one and half year has passed still silence prevails.” Till today twelve State Governments and Union Territories have recommended to Union of India for granting the SC status to these people. In the year 2000, Bihar State Assembly passed resolution for granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims; in the year 2006 Uttar Pradesh State Assembly passed resolution for the same; in the year 2009 Andra Pradesh State Government had passed resolution in its assembly for granting the SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims : Memoranda were submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Veerappa Moily, Law minister and Shri Salman Kursheed, Minister of Minority Affairs. Mr Veerappa Moily assured the delegation that their demands would be favourably considered and that his ministry was looking into the procedural details. Shri Salman Kursheed said that the PMO has already initiated the process of considering the demands of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin : National Dalit Christian Council Chairperson Prof. M Mary John, National Convenor V J George, Convenor Fr. A X J Bosco expressed hope that the long pending issue will be taken up by the Union Government once for all.
Christians' Demonstrations in New Delhi on 19th Nov.

New Delhi, November 18 (UNI & WWW.ORISSADIARY.COM) : In view of the forthcoming winter session of Parliament several church organizations are planning to hold a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar on 19th November. While agreeing with the broader objectives the Poor Christian Liberation Movement is of the opinion that the Church authorities in India have not done justice to the marginalised Christians. The “Poor Christian Liberation Movement” PCLM President RL Francis stated that several Dalits have embraced Christianity for better and equal treatment but the despite conversion their conditions have not changed. The Dalit Christians are still victims of discrimination with in the Church. The PCLM pointed out that Dalits or the socially underprivileged questions the church leadership for demanding special treatment for them they are treated badly Stating that Dalit Christians accounted for nearly 70 percent of India ’s Christian population, the PCLM, a Christian organization, accused high caste Christians of exploiting them. The church leadership ‘exploit the poverty and unemployment” among the Dalits to convert them to Christianity. The Church bodies are demanding reservation from the Government but in their own institutions are neglecting and ill treating the Christians of Dalit background. Some all India Christian leaders are minting money from abroad in the name of demonstrations etc. “Let the Church in India make 50 % job reservation for Dalit Christians in their institutions and then go to government for relief” said the PCLM President R L Francis in a press statement. “But despite a wide network of (Christian) missionary schools and colleges, most of Dalit Christians are illiterate and living in utter poverty because the convent schools are busy catering to the educational needs of rich and high caste people”, the statement further mentioned. “Same is the case with job opportunities and entrepreneurship development. Dalit Christians are being denied all these facilities while the church leadership continues to flourish by usurping vast foreign funding and real estate resources,” Francis charged.
Christian University With Strong Indian Roots

Mumbai, November 17 (Daily News & Analysis - DNA) : Several Indian rituals have found a place in the prayers and the overall set up of the 100-year-old Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), better known as Papal Seminary on Pune-Ahmednagar Road. The institution mainly trains Catholic priests and religious leaders. It has two faculties of philosophy and theology (religion), conferring bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. JDV was started as the Papal Seminary in 1893 in Kandy (Sri Lanka), and later transferred to Pune in 1955 and given an Indian name, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (The Light of Wisdom University). The government issued a special first day cover and commemorative stamp to mark the centenary. The institute is a centre for study of various branches of Christian philosophy and theology, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Sikhism. “Since we train the students in so many religions we made it a point to adopt the good teachings in these religions. The theme of our centenary year celebration was Sarva Jiva Sukham — Sarva Dharma Sakhyam (the happiness of all living being and friendships among all religions). We have depicted this theme in the form of a mandala. The mandala illustrates symbols of various religions,” said Father Noel, SJ, who is the professor of Indian philosophy and religions. JDV is the only national institute of ecclesiastical studies for diocesan priests in India. Besides Indian students, youths from many other countries are studying here.
Last Sunday of August Would Be 'Indian Christian Martyrs’ Day'

Bhopal, November 16 (Central Chronicle) : The Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh, Bhopal welcomed the decision taken at the regional secretaries meeting of the Ecumenical Commission of Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) held at Jhansi to remember the Christian personalities who have sacrificed their lives for Christ. Dr Manis Mathew, General Secretary of the Mahasangh said, “We are happy that our vision for the Christian community is being seen as a factor to unite and honour the Christian personalities who offered their lives for Christ, we will continue to pursue this cause till we achieve the objective.” The three-day meeting held in Jhansi proposed to observe the last Sunday of August as the Indian Christian Martyrs’ Day. It was stated in the meeting that “we want to remember all Christians who sacrificed their life ever since St Thomas, the Apostle. Last Sunday of August will be most fitting since it is on that month we have maximum persons from Orissa State.” Quoting Pope John Paul II it was stated in the meeting “In a Theo-centric vision, we Christians already have a common ‘martyrology’. This also includes the martyrs of our own century, more numerous than one might think, and it shows how, at a profound level, God preserves communion among the baptised in the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself.” Bishop Dr Anil Cuto of Jalandhar, the Ecumenism Commission Chairman, said “we are making an effort to remember those who died for Lord Jesus Christ. Martyrdom is the highest form of love expressed. Making a day as Indian Christian Martyrs Day is not making somebody a canonised saint but remembering their sacrifice to witness Christ. Their brave life is a heritage of the Church and we want to save for the coming generation. It is not just meant for Catholic Church but for all Churches and Ecclesial communities,” he added. The proposal was put up in the meeting by Fr Anand Muttungal, the Madhya Pradesh Regional Secretary for the Commission. He said, “Indian Christian Martyrs’ Day is a day to remember those heroic acts of the Indian Christians. It will create history like that of Acts of the Apostles and will inspire the Christians in the years to come.
A Christian Died Saving 400 Pak Muslim Students

The Mother Khurshid Siddiqui with her son Parvez Masih's photograph, daughter-in-law & grand daughter Diya.

Islamabad (Paksitan), November 13 (CNN) — Life is slowly getting back to normal at the women’s campus of Islamabad’s International Islamic University. The young women who study here chatter on the school’s well-manicured lawns, their brightly-colored scarves and Pakistani dresses blowing in the wind on a sunny autumn day. Barely three weeks ago, this quiet place of learning was the scene of a nightmare. On October 20, two suicide bombers launched near simultaneous attacks on both the men’s and women’s side of the campus. Afsheen Zafar, 20, is in mourning. Three of her classmates, girls she describes as “shining stars,” were killed on that terrible day. Still, she says the carnage could have been much worse if not for the actions of a lowly janitor, who was also killed. “If he didn’t stop the suicide attacker, there could have been great, great destruction,” Zafar says. “He’s now a legend to us,” says another 20-year-old student named Sumaya Ahsan. “Because he saved our lives, our friends’ lives.” The janitor’s name was Pervaiz Masih. According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker approached disguised in women’s clothing. He shot the guard on duty, and then approached the cafeteria, which was packed with hundreds of female students. Masih intercepted the bomber in the doorway, however, and the bomber self-detonated right outside the crowded hall, spraying many of his explosive vest’s arsenal of ball bearings out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria. “The sweeper who was cleaning up here saw someone outside and went towards him,” said Nasreen Siddique, a cafeteria worker who was wounded in the head, leg and arm by the blast. “[Masih] told him that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. And then they started arguing. And then we heard a loud blast and all the glass broke.” “Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there,” said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. “[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.” Masih was a member of Pakistan’s Christian minority, traditionally one of the poorest communities in the country. When the attacker struck, Masih had been on the job for less than a week, earning barely $60 a month. Masih lived with seven other family members, in a single room in a crowded apartment house in the city of Rawalpindi. Until the attack his mother, 70-year old Kurshaid Siddique, worked as a cleaning lady at a nearby house to help make ends meet. Now, she makes a daily pilgrimage to the cemetery where Masih is buried. Siddique is inconsolable. Asked if she was proud that some people were calling her son a hero, Siddique waved a hand in the air dismissively, answering, "My hero is dead now." She pulls out a framed photo of her son, pictured wearing a button down white shirt and a thick mustache. When Masih's three-year-old daughter Diya sees his photo, she reaches for it, saying, "Mama, I want that picture." From time to time, Diya turns to her mother and repeats one word, "Papa." The Islamic University offered to give Diya a free education and employ Masih's widow, Shaheen Pervaiz. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has promised to award Masih's family 1 million rupees (about $12,000) for his bravery. "He is a national hero because he saved the life of many girls," said Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minorities in the Pakistani government. "As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university." But the grave of this national hero is a sorry sight. It is located in the poorer, garbage-strewn Christian half of a neighborhood cemetery, less then three feet from a muddy road. Masih's mother and widow visit every day. One of his sisters crosses herself, then stoops down to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes someone threw onto the little mound of earth. The family had to borrow money to pay for Masih's funeral and they are now behind on paying the rent. If the government money comes through, Masih's mother would like to decorate her son's grave. "I would like him to have his name in cement with a nice poetry verse," she says. "And there should be a fence surrounding his grave." The janitor’s name was Pervaiz Masih. According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker approached disguised in women’s clothing. He shot the guard on duty, and then approached the cafeteria, which was packed with hundreds of female students. Masih intercepted the bomber in the doorway, however, and the bomber self-detonated right outside the crowded hall, spraying many of his explosive vest’s arsenal of ball bearings out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria. “The sweeper who was cleaning up here saw someone outside and went towards him,” said Nasreen Siddique, a cafeteria worker who was wounded in the head, leg and arm by the blast. “[Masih] told him that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. And then they started arguing. And then we heard a loud blast and all the glass broke.” “Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there,” said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. “[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.” Masih was a member of Pakistan’s Christian minority, traditionally one of the poorest communities in the country. When the attacker struck, Masih had been on the job for less than a week, earning barely $60 a month. As a Christian ... he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university. —Government minister Shabaz Bhatti Masih lived with seven other family members, in a single room in a crowded apartment house in the city of Rawalpindi. Until the attack his mother, 70-year old Kurshaid Siddique, worked as a cleaning lady at a nearby house to help make ends meet. Now, she makes a daily pilgrimage to the cemetery where Masih is buried. Siddique is inconsolable. Asked if she was proud that some people were calling her son a hero, Siddique waved a hand in the air dismissively, answering, “My hero is dead now.” She pulls out a framed photo of her son, pictured wearing a button down white shirt and a thick mustache. When Masih’s three-year-old daughter Diya sees his photo, she reaches for it, saying, “Mama, I want that picture.” From time to time, Diya turns to her mother and repeats one word, “Papa.” The Islamic University offered to give Diya a free education and employ Masih’s widow, Shaheen Pervaiz. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has promised to award Masih’s family 1 million rupees (about $12,000) for his bravery. “He is a national hero because he saved the life of many girls,” said Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minorities in the Pakistani government. “As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university.” But the grave of this national hero is a sorry sight. It is located in the poorer, garbage-strewn Christian half of a neighborhood cemetery, less then three feet from a muddy road. Masih’s mother and widow visit every day. One of his sisters crosses herself, then stoops down to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes someone threw onto the little mound of earth. The family had to borrow money to pay for Masih’s funeral and they are now behind on paying the rent. If the government money comes through, Masih’s mother would like to decorate her son’s grave. “I would like him to have his name in cement with a nice poetry verse,” she says. “And there should be a fence surrounding his grave.”
Tamil Nadu Christian Donates Wife’s Corpse For Medical Research

NAGERCOIL (Tamil Nadu), November 12 : A Catholic Christian of Kottar Diocese has donated the corpse of his wife for research to a medical college here, November 6. Lazar, a parishioner of Madathatuvilai, donated the corpse of his wife, Mary Suseela (57), to the Kanyakumari Medical College. A retired inspector in the transport department, Lazar said that he and his wife had decided to donate their bodies after their death for research purposes. He said his wife developed nervous problems coupled with fits after the delivery of their first child. No one could find out the cause of the malady. Donating her corpse may pave the way for some research findings, he said. Parish priest of the church, Father Dominic Kadatchadas, said Suseela’s was the first case of body donation in the district, which had been registered earlier by the couple. He said the parish authorities had created awareness among the parishioners on the benefits of donating human organs. So far 40 members of his parish have registered their eyes for donation, he added. Father Kadatchadas said the church was organising a propaganda campaign on organ donation as there was a greater need for it. (Courtesy : SarNews)
'Holy Water' Oozes From A Cross in Mumbai Church

Mumbai, November 10 (IANS) : Thousands of people thronged a south Mumbai church on Monday to see water oozing out a cross and to collect what they believed was holy water, though church officials shied away from giving the occurrence any name. The St. Joseph Church in south Mumbai’s Umerkhadi area is 72 years old and the cross beside it, from where the water is oozing out, is more than 150 years old. Father Dominic Pereira, the head of St.Joseph Church in Umerkhadi, admitted that he also saw the water but said: “But I have absolutely no explanation for it.” As the news spread like wildfire during the night, thousands of Christians and people from other faiths rushed to the church to get their share of what they believe could be holy water. Some enterprising youths got small vessels and filled it with the “holy water” and they distributed it to people in tiny plastic cups. Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesperson for the Archbishop of Mumbai, said it was too early to say anything or explain the development. “Before we give it any name, we have to first scientifically verify the phenomenon and that is a long process. However, if it helps people in coming closer to god, we welcome it. Though we don’t want religion to be reduced to such incidents alone,” Charanghat said. He recounted a similar incident in Vasai (Thane district) a few years ago, when water was seen oozing out of a large iron cross. Later, the cause was found to be simple - it was only some rainwater that had accumulated inside the cross. The hullabaloo began when 62-year-old Janardhan Waghmare said his eyesight improved after drinking the water and he no longer needed to use spectacles. A middle-aged Vishwasram Solanki, a resident of Dongri, stood testimony to what Waghmare claimed. “I was short sighted and found it difficult to read small fonts on hoardings, but only a sip of water helped clear my vision,” he said. However, Anthony Gonsalves, who looks after the maintenance of the crucifix, told that it was too early to label the incident a miracle. “We are being cautious; it’s too early to say it’s a miracle. We would like to wait for a day or two to see if there is any scientific reasoning behind the incident,” he added. The crucifix stands outside Gonsalves’s shop.
European Court Rules Against Crucifixes in the Schools, Italians Outrage

A crucifix is seen on a wall as a student writes on a blackboard in a school classroom in Rome. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Rome, November 9 (ABC News) : Italians reacted with outrage after a European court ruled that displaying crucifixes in the country’s schools violated the principle of secular education. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italian schools should remove crucifixes from classroom walls, saying their presence could disturb children who were not Christians. The decision is likely to provoke a controversy in Italy, which is deeply attached to its Roman Catholic roots. Italy’s education minister condemned the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights, saying that the Christian cross was a symbol of the country’s Roman Catholic religion and cultural identity. Mariastella Gelmini, a member of the conservative government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, argued that “no one, and certainly not an ideological European court, will succeed in erasing our identity,” said Other ministers said they were appalled by the ruling, calling it “absurd,” “shameful” and “offensive.” Generations of Italian children have grown up studying in classrooms in which a wooden or metal crucifix looms above the blackboard. But Italy has been transformed in the past two decades from a country that exported migrants to one that has accepted around 4.5 million economic refugees and asylum seekers from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. The influx of foreigners has led to deep-seated tensions, particularly with Roma gypsies from former Eastern bloc countries and Muslim immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. Schools in Spain, France, and Britain have also debated whether crucifixes should be allowed in public schools. The landmark ruling could prompt a Europewide review of the use of religious symbols in state-run schools. Europe losing its identity? The decision was handed down by a panel of seven judges at the court in Strasbourg. They said that the display of crucifixes, which is common but not mandatory in Italian schools, violated the principle of secular education and might be intimidating for children from other faiths. “The presence of the crucifix could be ... disturbing for pupils who practiced other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities,” the court said. “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities... restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions,” it added. Crucifixes were an undeniable symbol of Catholicism, the court ruled, and as such were at odds with the principle of “educational pluralism.” The court upheld a complaint filed by Soile Lautsi, a Finnish woman who lives in Italy and has Italian citizenship, who complained that her children had to attend a state school in a town near Venice which had crucifixes in every classroom. The court awarded her €5,000 ($7,400 dollars) in “moral damages,” which will have to be paid by the Italian government unless it is successful in an appeal. The judges stopped short of ordering authorities to remove crucifixes from all state-run schools, and the long-term implications of the ruling were unclear. The judgment sparked anger in predominantly Catholic Italy, with ministers and the Catholic Church saying the crucifix was an integral part of Italy’s national identity. Foreign minister Franco Frattini, speaking during a visit to Morocco, said it was an attack on Italy’s Christian identity and that the government would appeal the decision. “At a time when we’re trying to bring religions closer together, this is a blow to Christianity,” he said. The agriculture minister Luca Zaia, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League, a key ally in Mr Berlusconi’s bloc, called the judgment “shameful.” Mario Baccini, a senator in Mr. Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, said the court had “gone adrift in paganism.” The newly-elected head of the main opposition Democratic Party, Pierluigi Bersani, commented that the ruling lacked common sense. “I think a longstanding tradition like the crucifix can’t be offensive to anyone,” he said.

Italian bishops protest

The powerful Italian Bishops Conference said in a statement that the ruling was based on a “biased and ideological view.” The Vatican said it wanted to study the exact wording of the ruling before issuing a response. Mrs. Lautsi first brought the case eight years ago when her two children went to a state school in the spa town of Abano Terme near Venice. She asked for them to be taken down but education authorities refused. She then spent several years fighting the decision through the Italian courts. A court in the Veneto region where she lives rejected her arguments, prompting her to take the case to Strasbourg.
Three Days' Pinjore Spiritual Meeting Concludes

Pinjore, November 2 (Shahbab Samuel) : A Spiritual Musical Evening-cum-Revival Meeting, which was organised by the Christian congregation of Pinjore HMT & Kalka concluded successfully. Congress leaders Sangat Singh Nanda, Bhagat Singh - the Son of Ex-Minister Lachhman Singh and Vijay Bansal - Bahujan Samaj Party leader were the Chief Guests in the three days' meeting. While addressing the congregation Dr. Pardeep Samuel Gunnar of Lucknow said that the Indian Christian community should come forward to cleanse the dirty politics. He suggested that now it is time to enter into politics for the Christians, if they wish to proceed with all the compliances of the Christian ethics. He said that only the Word of God can cleanse the whole world. The Christian community should also actively participate in the commercial activities. The Christians should do their activities quite honestly. We should not see towards the countries like America or England, rather we should come forward with the Word of the Holy Bible and proceed further upon the path of the Holy Cross. He read some verses of the Psalms and advised to follow. On this occasion, Rev. George Samuel, Rev. Gopal Malhotra, Nathan Tirki, Sushil Khalko, Amrit Kindo prayerd for the whole community. Mrs. Mercy Samuel, Abhishek Samuel, Ashish Samuel, Aanchal, Muskan and Khushi of the Faith Baptist Church sang the Christian songs. The congregations of the Faith Baptist Church Pinjore, GL Church Model Town, Salvation Church Manakpur, CNI Church Kalka, Catholic Church Kalka, Baptist Church Kalka took part in the Spiritual Musical Evening-cum-Revival Meeting.
Kashmiri Catholics Threatened To Shut Down Their Schools

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir), October 26 (Nirmala Carvalho for Asia News) – The Catholic Church of Jammu and Kashmir has threatened to shut down its schools if the State government does not guarantee security to its teachers and staff in lieu of interfering in the internal affairs of Catholic institutions, said Joseph TK, a liaison officer with the Catholic Church, after the district collector in Baramulla intervened in a dispute between the administration and teachers at the St Joseph Higher Secondary School. Trouble began when staff members protested accusing the administration of favouring a specific party in a case involving teachers. Church representatives complained about the district collector’s intervention in the school management, demanding the authorities investigate “anti-Christian and anti-religious” reasons behind the staff protest rather than matters internal to the school. The Church also submitted a memorandum to Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state, demanding security for all its employees and institutions. Mgr Peter Celestine, bishop of the Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar, told that the “political situation is volatile and there is tension all around, even though the Church is not party to politics.” In Jammu and Kashmir, “Christians are a miniscule minority, a mere 0.0014 per cent” in the overwhelmingly Muslim State. Despite this, the Church runs a number of welfare and educational organisations. Its schools have about 7,000 students, mostly Muslims. “Muslim boys can dress according to Islamic principles and wear skull caps; girls can wear the purdah,” the bishop of Jammu-Srinagar said. “Occasionally, there are attacks on our institutions and also personnel on the basis of fabricated news; however, there is no suspicion from the authorities,” he added. “The authorities are respectful of the Christian missionaries and we are never under any threat from the administration.” In addition, “we share a cordial relationship with Muslim religious leaders. ”. Still the prelate said that he would like to see the State do more to protect minorities, especially Christians, against discrimination.
A Christian Pastor Beaten in M.P.

Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh), October 24 (Shireen Bhatia for Compass Direct News) - A group of extremists in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month beat a pastor unconscious and chewed off part of his ear, pelting him with stones after he fainted from the pain.Paasu Ninama told that the six attackers first lured him into a house in Malphalia village, Jhabua district with an offer of water on Oct. 4. The 35-year-old resident of Pipal Kutta village said he was on his way back from his regular Sunday service in Malphalia at 4 p.m. when six men sitting outside a house invited him in for a glass of water.When he saw a photograph of Jesus Christ in the house, he knew they had set a trap for him - Pastor Ninama said he knew they would accuse him of providing the photo and trying to “forcibly” convert them.”I immediately turned to escape when they all jumped on me and started to beat me, accusing me of luring people to convert,” he said.They badly beat him with wood on his hands, legs and back.”I joined my hands and begged them not to beat me and let me go, but they mercilessly continued to hit me black and blue,” Pastor Ninama said.One of the extremists chewed off Pastor Ninama’s left ear, which bled heavily. Pastor Ninama fell unconscious.”A piece of my ear was in his mouth, and it went missing,” said Pastor Ninama, in tears.The attackers started pelting the unconscious pastor with stones until villagers intervened. There were two eyewitnesses who will testify in court of the attack, said Pastor Bahadur Baria, who lives in a nearby village.When Pastor Ninama regained consciousness, he found himself in Life Line Hospital, Dahod, Gujrat state, 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the site of the attack. He sustained internal injuries and had severe pain in his chest from the beating and stoning, he told Compass.Pastor Baria said the attackers planned to trap Pastor Ninama by saying he had given the photo of Jesus to them and that he had tried to convince them to forsake Hinduism for Christianity.Pastor Baria told Compass that a group of Hindu fundamentalists later went to the Meghnagar police station on behalf of the attackers to file an FIR against Pastor Ninama, accusing him of entering their house with a photo of Jesus and trying to convert them to Christianity.” The officer refused to consider their complaint, he said, based on the obvious harm that the attackers had done to Pastor Ninama. Police also stated that they would not consider any complaint that could lead to violence in the name of religion.Pastor Ninama has filed a First Information report (FIR) at the Meghnagar police station against Ramesh Ninama and his five accomplices. Police have filed a case for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, punishment for voluntarily causing hurt and “obscene acts and songs” under the Indian Penal Code. Depending on the results of a medical report, they will decide whether to add the charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.Sub-Inspector B.K. Arya told Compass that no arrests have been made yet. He confirmed that the charges could be modified depending on the expected medical report.”I will personally see to it that the investigation is expedited and the culprits nabbed,” Superintendent of Police Abhay Singh told Compass.Fearless MinistryPastor Ninama, who converted to Christianity five years ago, said that his faith and bold ministry have earned him many enemies.”Twice the Hindu extremists tried to put me behind bars,” but they had not treated him so severely, he said.A year ago, he said, he was praying at a meeting in Malphalia village when two men approached him with a sword and made false accusations against him because of his ministry. One of them, Prakash Gadawa, had accused Pastor Ninama of forcefully converting his daughter, son and wife. They took Pastor Ninama to a police station, where they reached an agreement to drop charges, but six months ago Gadawa again attacked, this time entering the pastor’s house with a sword and threatening to kill him. “I went to file a complaint against him in the police station, but instead the police arrested me and kept me in custody for the whole day and took no action against Prakash Gadawa,” he said.Pastor Ninama revealed that around five days prior to the Oct. 4 incident, Gadawa came outside his house and shouted obscenities - accusing him of preaching the Bible and converting people.”I did not take any action against this, for I know that no action will be taken by the police,” the discouraged pastor said.Pastor Ninama said he and his family became Christians after his wife was delivered from demonic possession by a pastor’s prayer. “After just three days, my wife was completely healed,” he said. “Me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”For the past three years, Pastor Ninama has traveled a distance of 28 kilometers (17 miles) every Sunday to conduct four services in different churches in the area. More than 100 people gather to worship at Vadli Pada village, he said, 200 people meet in Pipalkutta village, 15 in Malbalia village and 13 families in Kodali village.The independent pastor said he works as a day laborer in farm fields to sustain his family: 32-year-old wife Bundi Ninama, four daughters and two sons, the youngest boy being 5 years old.Pastor Ninama told Compass that the Dahod hospital has referred him to Baroda’s Nayak Hospital for further treatment and grafting of his ear.”I will continue to do the work of the Lord,” Pastor Ninama said.
RSS Radicals Attack A Christian Prayer Meeting, 3 Pastors Injured

Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), October 23 (Persecution Update India) : RSS radicals viciously attacked three pastors, one woman and one child on Sunday Oct 18, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. while they were having a prayer service in Kukatpally, Yellama Banda, Hyderabad. On Sunday a cottage prayer service was being conducted in Siluvai Kumar’s house scheduled from 8:00 p.m. onwards where around 40 believers were gathered. At 9:00 p.m., 10-15 RSS radicals barged into the house and starting beating up people. Pastors Phillip (39), Timothy and Siluvai Kumar were badly injured. Pastor Timothy has sustained a severe injury on his left ear. The radicals even beat up Pastor Phillip’s wife, Kezia, who is pregnant and is full term, and their daughter Hepziba who is only 18 months old. The radicals grabbed all the Bibles they could, tore them and threw them out. They also damaged the musical instruments, drums, metal doors and windows in the house. The radicals then dragged Pastor Timothy to the Kukatpally Police Station where they lodged a false complaint against the pastor alleging that he urinated on the idols of a nearby temple. The police detained the pastor. GCIC coordinator took the injured to the hospital and was at the police station intervening on behalf of the pastors detained. Following this, the police have released the pastor. S.I Sudarshan Reddy of Kukatpally Police Station tried to make a compromise between both the parties and even threatened them with dire consequences if this was repeated. Local RSS activists Jagdesh and Sreenu had warned the pastors against having any prayer meetings in the area. The RSS men had threatened the pastors saying if they conducted any worship services there would be a repeat of Kandhamal in Kukatpally. Kukatpally is a main area where RSS activists are being trained and sent across Hyderabad to the outskirts of the city. Pastor Phillip who has sustained internal injuries especially near the cheek has been serving in the slums for the past four and a half years. Pastors Phillip and Timothy’s families have migrated from Gudiwada, Machulipatinam, Krishna Dist, A.P. They are from a Dalit background (Mala community). Please pray for the pastors, their families and for their ministry. Please keep Kukatpally area in your prayers, that believers would be protected and that many would come to know the love of Jesus.
India Rejects Albania Demand For The Remains Of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa Paying Tributes to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. (File Photo)

New Delhi, October 19 (Digital Journal) : Indian authorities have rejected a request from their Albanian counterparts to hand over the remains of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 aged 87. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in the Ottoman-ruled city of Uskub, known today as Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, Mother Teresa’s parents were of Albanian origin, an ethnicity which the woman beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003 acknowledged as her own. Mother Teresa initially traveled to India in 1929, whilst a novitiate, taking her first vows as a nun in 1931 when she assumed the name by which she became so famous. In 1950 she established the Missionaries of Charity, an order dedicated to helping the sick, destitute and abandoned on the streets of what was then Calcutta and is now Kolkata. A year later she was granted Indian citizenship. It appears that Mother Teresa, who many are hoping will be canonized come the 100th anniversary of her birth next year, recognized the different facets of her identity because, according to CNN, she had declared: By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world But now, with his country planning to open a museum in honor of Mother Teresa and stage events in 2010 intended to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has asked India to hand over the remains of the woman who was referred to by many as the “Saint of the Gutters”. Mr Berisha, strictly speaking he is Dr. Berisha, being both a cardiologist and professor, has also asserted that passing her remains to Albania would allow Mother Teresa to be buried next to her mother and sister in a cemetery in Tirana, the Albanian capital. Claiming that he was told by the woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 and became an honorary U.S. citizen in 1996 that “she prayed every day for her family and her country”, Mr Berisha said that his request for Mother Teresa’s remains “is a very human one”. However the Indian government is not sympathetic to Mr Berisha’s request to remove Mother Teresa from her current resting place in the Missionaries of Charity compound in central Kolkata , foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash having stated: Mother Teresa was an Indian citizen and she is resting in her own country, her own land The Catholic Bishops Conference of India has supported the stance adopted by the government of India, Father Babu Joseph, a spokesman for the Conference explaining: The Catholic church gladly welcomes the response of the external affairs ministry that Mother Teresa was fully an Indian citizen. We would want her remains to be in India. Mother Teresa had all through her life and activities built up a strong bond with all sections of Indian society and she is respected by all in the country. And this was the filial relationship between the Mother and Indians, which cannot be overlooked.
US Church 'll Burn Bibles, Christian Books

CANTON (North Carolina, USA), October 16 (Associated Press) — A North Carolina pastor says his church plans to burn Bibles and books by Christian authors on Halloween to light a fire under true believers. Pastor Marc Grizzard told Asheville TV station WLOS that the King James version of the Bible is the only one his small western North Carolina church follows. He says all other versions, such as the Living Bible, are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word. On Halloween night, Grizzard and the 14 members of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church also will burn music and books by Christian authors, such as Billy Graham and Rick Warren. Telephone calls to the Amazing Grace Baptist Church and Grizzard’s home were not immediately returned Wednesday. The pastor of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina plans to celebrate Halloween by leading his fourteen member congregation by burning Bibles. Pastor Marc Grizzard is not a Satan worshiper or a militant atheist. Pastor Grizzard says that he is a Christian. The idea that the true word of God is only pure when it is written in early 17th Century English, with the thous and thees in a book compiled about 1600 years after the death of Jesus Christ is somewhat mind-boggling. The original books that make up the Bible were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The translation into English commissioned by King James I of England was somewhat imperfect in conveying some of the concepts. The process of translating what became the King James Bible was also rife with politics and doctrinal controversy. Part of the reason King James ordered the translation was that he desired to limit the influence of the Puritans, deeply religious Englishmen who were somewhat skeptical of the “purity” of the Anglican Church. One also has to scratch ones head what is Christian, religious, or even sensible about burning Bibles and other books. Besides having the odor of Nazi era book burning, the idea of a Christian church burning Christian books smacks one as bizarre behavior. What the Amazing Grace Baptist Church proposes to do lends credence to the idea advanced by some secularists that people of faith have a tendency to do nutty things.
Christians Object to US MPs’ Letter On Kandhamal

Bhubaneswar, Oct 13 (IANS) : A Christian group has objected to a letter written by 21 lawmakers from the US to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik urging him to “protect Christians” in the aftermath of the Kandhamal violence. “We don’t agree with the letter written by the 21 lawmakers from the US, led by Trent Franks, to the Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik. There is no point in writing a letter to the state chief minister when the rehabilitation is over,” said Swarupananda Patra, president of the Orissa Minority Forum. “It is time to rebuild the lives of those who have lost their homes. And as a Christian I am sure the chief minister is doing fine in ensuring peace in Kandhamal,” he said. He also did not agree on attaching a religions tag to the violence that followed the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008. “We don’t believe in attaching a religious tag to the violence. They were a group of criminals who orchestrated the violence rather than Hindus as it is mentioned in the letter,” he said. He added: “It is not time to indulge in blame games. Rather it is time to help the victims of violence. The blame game will only strengthen the hands of criminals.” The US lawmakers Friday wrote the letter to the Orissa chief minister that “attacks on the fundamental freedom of religion threaten not only India’s reputation for religious diversity, but also the very stability of India’s secular democracy.”
The Christians Donate To Flood Victims

Mangalore (Karnatka), October 12 (Daiji World) : “To help the flood victims in districts of North Karnataka, the Indian Christian community has decided to donate 1,000 houses and extend help to 25,000 victims. So, we have started a collection and information centre at the Bishop House premises in Kodialbail”, said Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore Diocese. Speaking at the collection centre on Friday October 9, the Bishop said that all churches under Mangalore Diocese will perform a special prayer and through this collect donations from the community members. “We have decided to help the victims by constructing 1,000 houses in Gulbarga, Raichur, Bijapur, and Bellary districts with the help of all community members across India”, he said.  “A team of doctors has been sent to assist in relief efforts and there are two more teams ready to rush to the flood-affected areas. Medicines have also been sent with them which are also donations”, said the Bishop.
Andhra & Karnatka Floods Damage 170 Churches

Hyderabad/Bangalore, October 9 (Mission Network News) : As massive flooding in the Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh left at least 230 people dead and more than 10 million survivors homeless, missionaries supported by Gospel for Asia and the Christians they serve are reaching out to the victims with both physical aid and emotional comfort. GFA President K.P. Yohannan reported that among the congregations his ministry serves, more than 170 church buildings have been damaged or destroyed, and at least 30,000 families have been affected by the floods that were spawned by a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. “Most of these Christian families — like others around them — need immediate food, clean water and shelter,” the GFA founder said. “They have lost literally everything.” News reports indicated that at least 350 villages have been left totally cut off from the outside world by the flood waters—the worst in memory for Karnataka. The Indian Air Force is dropping supplies to some of the cut-off areas, while the Army is using boats to try to reach others. Dr. Yohannan reported that regardless of their situations, GFA-supported missionaries are already bringing relief supplies—and hope—to those in such dire need. “In spite of their own difficulties, our missionaries and believers are working to meet the physical and emotional needs of the victims,” he explained. “In fact, our people see it as a great privilege to share the love of Christ with those who are suffering so much.” Dr. Yohannan said that in addition to the physical suffering, the missionaries see even greater despair and emotional pain in the eyes of the victims. “That’s why our missionaries are trained not only to give out food and blankets, but to counsel and pray with men and women in trauma, giving them the only true hope they can find to rebuild their lives,” Yohannan explained. “Jesus said, ‘As you have done it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.’ So what an opportunity it is to minister to these suffering victims in His name! “I ask anyone who wants to help these suffering people to please join with us in bringing them God’s hope for their lives.
Mumbai Pastors Motivate Students

Mumbai, October 6 (Planet Powai) : The ‘Central Mumbai Christian Fellowship’ is an association of Church Pastors and community leaders, working together for the betterment of the society at large. On 28th September, the 5th ‘Thanks Giving Service’ and the felicitation program to motivate students who had passed 10th and 12th standard were conducted at Kalidas Auditorium in Mulund. The program commenced with prayers and praise & worship. Pastor Shelton Davidson shared the message from the Bible. The Hon. Member of Parliament, Shri Sanjay Dina Patil was the Chief Guest on this occasion. MLA Sardar Tara Singh and MLC Charan Singh Sapra and Father William Athaide the Priest of St. Pius-X Church and other dignitaries shared the dais. The congregation of Pastors prayed for the Nation as it is facing many problems like recession, draught, terrorism, swine flue etc. P. Jaimone Kuruvilla led the service and Bro Jude Fernandes did the students felicitation. All the dignitaries were presented with memento by the theme ‘Unity’. Bro D D Tribhuvan concluded with a prayer and benediction. Joseph Reddy of the Hiranandani Group while speaking on the occasion said, “The salient features of Constitution of India of Unity in Diversity and democracy is reflected when the great politicians of different parties of the local area are present on the same dais.” Reddy thanked god for that and further shared the message of the speaker to these VIPs that the value of a person is not what he is or what are his achievements or success, but it is what he is in the sight of the Lord. He appreciated all politicians for their good work, especially MP Sanjay Patil for his simple and humble nature while dealing with common man and goes out of way to address and help the people for any good and social cause. It is to be noted that some months back he released Rs.21 lacs for Mulund Christian Cemetery.
Kolkata Yesu Mahotsav Held Successfully

KOLKATA (West Bengal), Oct 5 (C. M. Paul for Bosco Information Service) - The Kolkata preparation for Indian Mission Congress christened PRABHU YESU MAHOTSAV concluded with a day-long programme at Don Bosco Park Circus (DBPC) grounds, 3 October. A whole night prayer and praise service led by Salesian Father Dr Jose Aymanathil of the Calcutta Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (CCCRS) and his team preceded the event, 2 October. Over 2000 representatives from the four Kolkata deaneries participated. Lord Jesus Celebration Kolkata at Don Bosco grounds disrupted by rain. [in set] Archbishop Sircar holds aloft paschal candle symbolising the celebration theme: Let your light shine. Rain Disrupts Archbishop‘s Homily : The programme started with a colourful inaugural ceremony in the presence of Archbishop Lucas Sirkar SDB of Calcutta, archbishop emeritus of Calcutta Henry D‘Souza, Sr. Prema MC, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and Padmashree Sr. Cyril Mooney IBVM, Principal of Loreto Sealdah, among others. Panel Discussion and Faith Sharing in English and Hindi & Bengali languages were held at different venues in DBPC. Sudden down pour marred the solemn two hour concelebrated Eucharist presided over by Archbishop Sircar cutting short his homily. Some 70 priests, 300 sisters and hundreds of faithful participated along with four language choirs (English, Hindi, Bengali and Santali). After a sumptuous lunch of chicken & egg biriyani and ice-cream the participants split into groups for three hours of films, gospel singing, tribal dance and visiting exhibition stalls. MC Sisters Attend Film Festival : Major attraction of the day was the screening of a film on Mother Teresa In the name of God‘s poor (English) with an introduction by Fr Gaston Roberge SJ who was associated with Dominique Lapierre who took 15 years to produce the film after obtaining Mother Teresa‘s permission in 1982. The film depicts Mother Teresa‘s call and mission till 1979 when she received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Some 200 MC Sisters were among the audience to watch the film. A tele-film in Bengali on another outstanding Christian from Bengal, Servant of God Salesian Fr. Francis Convertini, drew large crowds. Other films for screening in both English and Bengali languages included a documentary on Our Lady of Bandel (oldest Church & Marian shrine in eastern India under the care of Salesians since 1928) and a short feature on Don Bosco and Pope John Paul II. The films in both English (DB Hall) and Bengali (Loyola Hall) languages were screened in two venues on campus. Two Folk Artists Share Same Stage : Two folk artists who rendered their services in the Nitika production of Bible Songs and a life of Jesus sang from the same stage where various amateur groups performed. While kirtan pandit Fr Pankaj Pathi of neighbouring Baruipur diocese, a DB past pupil, rendered the life of Christ on three Audio and three VCDs (2006) in a production entitled Manobtratta Jisu, baul samrat Sanajit Mondol collaborated in setting Bible verses into Indian dance music in four audio cassettes entitled Chhonde Baibler Kahini (1998-1999). A selection of ten songs from the series was put into a music video on the Life of Jesus entitled Manobtratta Jisu (2005). Three Salesians in Organizing Committee : Besides Archbishop, the 18-member Yesu Mahotsav organizing committee had two more Salesians (Fr Robin Gomes and Fr Siby Vadakel, Rector DBPC). Four more Salesians actively involved in the events were Frs. Jose Aymanathil, P.J. Mathew, Jude Sebastian and C. M. Paul.
Blasphemy Laws Won't Be Misused Against Christians : Zardari

ROME (Italy), October 3 (ANI) - Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has assured Pope Benedict XVI that his government would ensure that blasphemy laws are not used against Christians. During their meeting here, the Pope had asked Zardari to guarantee protection of minority Christians and ensure that a Gojra-like violence doesn’t get repeated. The Daily Times quoted a Vatican statement, as saying that Zardari’s talks with the Pope and Vatican officials centred on minority Christians in Pakistan. “Emphasis was given to the need to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation, with the aim of promoting respect for the rights of all citizens,” it said. Nine people- including four women and a child -were killed in anti-Christian riots in Gojra in August. Christian homes were burnt after unsubstantiated accusations that some of them had desecrated the holy Quran. According to the statement, the talks also focused on “elements that have favoured such incidents”, an apparent reference to groups that have exploited Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which allows the death penalty for blaspheming Islam. The Pope and Zardari examined “the situation in Pakistan, with particular reference to terrorism and the commitment to create a society more tolerant and harmonious in all its aspects”. Zardari reportedly told the Pope that his government was committed to promoting interfaith harmony and tolerance, and that as why it had plans to set up a federal interfaith complex, in addition to interfaith harmony committees in all districts of the country.
Twenty-Four Christians Killed In Nepal Church Collapse

Kathmandu (Nepal), October 1 : Twenty-four people, including an Indian from Siliguri, were crushed to death while they slept as a revival meeting called by a Christian sect founded by a Punjab preacher turned into disaster in eastern Nepal on Wednesday. Bhagat Singh Chhabra, the son of a wealthy business family from Punjab, whose brother Sri Chand was a former mayor of New Delhi and a close associate of Indira Gandhi, founded the El Shiddai indigenous church in Chennai in 1941 after receiving visions and becoming a convert from a non-believer who had once torn up the Bible gifted to him. Chabra’s church came to Nepal as well and after withstanding the persecution of non-Hindus during the partyless panchayat system of government in Nepal came out in the open three years ago, when the Hindu kingdom became a secular state. Ironically, the free revival meeting in Dharan, the home of the British and Indian Gorkha soldiers, that began from Monday resulted in the collapse of the makeshift dormitory where nearly 1200 people were accommodated, killing 24 people, mostly women (See Photo: Sky News). Nika Rai, a 29-year-old woman from Guathan, Siliguri, died in the accident while there were two more Indians among the 63 injured: Karma Chhodin, 29, and Sarada Rai, both of whom are from Sikkim. Believers from Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Sikkim had been attending the meeting, police said. A three-storeyed bamboo tent had been erected at the Zion Prarthana Bhavan church to house the visitors. It gave way early in the morning under the weight, police said. In a double irony, Singh, who passed away in 2000, had studied at the London Engineering College. Nepal’s government expressed sorrow at the accident. In a statement, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said he was “deeply grieved and shocked” by the tragedy. “On behalf of the government, I express my deep sorrow at the incident and condolences to the grieving families,” the prime minister said. This is the second tragedy to smite the church in Nepal this year. In May, a Hindu militant organisation set off a bomb inside Kathmandu’s oldest Catholic church, causing the death of three women during mass. (Courtesy: The Times of India)
A Statue of Ganesh At Calgary Zoo Offends Christians

CALGARY, September 29/30 (Calgary Herald) — A dancing elephant statue at the Calgary Zoo has kicked up controversy after a Christian group condemned the figure as an inappropriate religious icon. Zoo officials say they have no plans to replace the Ganesh statue — which has stood near the elephant enclosure for at least two years — despite calls for its removal from Concerned Christians Canada. The group sent a letter to the zoo earlier this week, calling the statue an image of a Hindu god that has no place in the publicly funded zoo. “The zoo is not a place of religious expression,” said Concerned Christians’ chairman Jim Blake. “Whether you’re a believer of any faith or an atheist or agnostic, if you’re a non-Hindu, it’s a god that does not represent your views.” The issue first arose after the Concerned Christian group was approached by some zoo visitors upset over the elephant statue. Grahame Newton, the zoo’s director of corporate services, says the Ganesh statue isn’t a religious icon, rather a cultural symbol that shows the tie between the elephants and Asian culture. “It was actually chosen more (as) a symbol of how animals and cultures tie closely together,” he said. An anonymous donor supplied funds for the statue several years ago in memory of her late father, who worked and travelled extensively in Asia, Newton said. Although Newton acknowledged the statue’s religious ties, he said Ganesh also holds a wider interpretation as a cultural symbol, much like the eagle in the United States. “It certainly is important to the Hindu religion, but it’s also very much a cultural symbol, and that was certainly the intent here.” The artist who created the statue was also asked to strip certain religious symbols associated with the god, he added. Newton called the Concerned Christians’ approach “the views of a very small minority. “We don’t cater to any particular religion.” Blake said if the statue is not removed, the zoo should be willing to incorporate other religious displays. “It’s not my favourite way of going about it, but we can approach the zoo to see if they are willing to put up, for example, a Noah’s ark or perhaps other artifacts from other faiths,” Blake said
Another Pastor Attacked In AP

Hyderabad, September 27 (Joseph Keenan for The Christian Post) : A group of Hindu fundamentalists attacked a pastor during Sunday worship service in southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, after they warned him to stop conducting services 3 months ago. Last Sunday, veiled men also attacked another pastor, Vanamala Parishuddam of Yellareddygudam village, Nalagonda district, in the same state after the worship service, injuring the pastor who received nine stitches on his head. Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the voice and advocacy group of persecuted Christians in India, reported that the attack took place at K Samudram village, Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh on 13th September, when a group of Hindu radicals barged into Agape Full Gospel House Church at around 11:30 a.m. and attacked Pastor Pilly Kumaraswamy who was conducting worship service. The report said the radicals disrupted the worship service and tried to beat up Pastor Pilly, the believers managed to rescue the Pastor from the attackers. The report said that instead the radicals had complained against the Pastor in the police station, saying that the pastor is using the loud speaker and causing inconvenience to the people living around, the police refused to register the case against them. When the pastor and the church members went to file complaint, the report said, the Police Sub Inspector (S.I.) Mr. Santhosh of K Samudram police station told the Pastor that he will not file a case against the attackers since it is a religious issue. Later the Pastor Pilly approached Circle Inspector (C.I.) regarding this issue. C.I. directed the S.I. either to file a case against the attackers or to solve this matter. So far no case has been filed against the radicals, it stated. The Hindu radicals had threatened Pastor Pilly Kumaraswamy not to conduct the worship service 3 months back, the report said. According to GCIC, Pastor Pilly Kumaraswamy, 29, native of Adilabad district has been ministering in K Samudram village for the past 4 years and has 40 believers in his congregation. Pastor Pilly and his wife are blessed with one child. Andhra Pradesh, a state that is sandwiched between Karnataka and Orissa, the two states that had witnessed the most number of attacks in 2009 and 2008 respectively is also increasingly hostile to Christians.
Five Get Life Term In Kandhamal Violence

Bhubaneswar (Orissa), September 25 (IANS) : A fast-track court sentenced five people to life term for their role in the murder of a villager during communal violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal district last year. Additional Sessions Judge Sobhan Kumar Das of the fast-track court number 1 at district headquarters of Phulbani sentenced Sabita Pradhan, Papu Pradhan, Abinash Pradhan, Dharmaraj Pradhan and Mania Pradhan to life imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs.5,000 each on them, special public prosecutor B.K. Pattnaik told IANS. The court found them guilty of killing Akbar Digal, a pastor of a Baptist church at Tatamaha village, on Aug 26 last year. Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23. More than 25,000 Christians fled their villages after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, who held the Christian community there responsible for Saraswati’s killing although police blamed the Maoists. The government has set up two fast-track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.
Media Should Not Use Its Freedom Against The Christianity : Stephen Gill

Chandigarh: Mr. Stephen Gill Canada, the Poet Laureate has sent the Christian Fort.Com a letter. He writes : A writer in the issue of the newspaper 'Rozana Spokesman' dtd. 18th of September, 2009 states that according to 1. Corinthians 7: 25; 35-36 a father can sleep with his adult daughter. I have gone through several translations of the Bible. I do not find such a distorted suggestion. I have come to know that this newspaper has maligned Christianity more than once. I have also come to know that this newspaper has maligned the Hindus, Muslims, untouchable and others in the past. In this said issue, the newspaper has come back to malign Christianity by giving a distorted version of the verses in 1. Corinthians. It is obvious that this newspaper is disrespectful to the freedom that is granted to the press for the growth of a healthy democracy. The press is given freedom to convey truthful information to citizens. But this newspaper is behaving in an irresponsible way that is against the spirit of democracy and the national interest of the country. In a competitive world of today, there are publications that have no money, energy, knowledge and education to survive. Such publications look for cheap publicity by indulging in yellow journalism that downplays legitimate information in favor of catchy headings and sensational stories to sell their newspapers. This is an unprofessional practice. It is a serious crime to mislead citizens for the satisfaction of personal ego, and to achieve political and personal ends. It is a crime also against the state because misleading information cause disharmony and disharmony leads to insecurity, as well as to financial bankruptcy of the nation. Because dissemination of information is important for the success of democracy, the media is given freedom to present reliable information. It is fraud to sell something that is unreliable, claiming it to be reliable. Obviously this publication follows a fraudulent path. India has a respectable status in the democratic nations of the world. Such sensational, untrue statements do not bring any credit to the nation in the global village. This is going to tarnish the image of India that has already been tarnished by several incidents that have and are still happening against the minorities in the land of Buddha and Gandhi. Moreover, such strategies for cheap publicity are self-defeating. Readers of today are not ignorant as they were during the age of the Mogul Empire. There will be discussions and more discussions about the Gospel and more people will be knocking at the doors of churches and pastors to find the truth. This is going to defeat the purpose of the publication. Readers will lose their faith in this newspaper. At the same time, the newspaper can be challenged in any court of law as well as in the court of moral decency and truth. I believe that the media that misuse the law of the freedom of the press are the farmers who grow weeds, because in certain markets weeds fetch more money and may go even faster. Because of the money and the platform, these farmers buy lawmakers and top lawyers. To battle against these farmers of weeds needs relentless courage. I would advise the editor of the newspaper to work in the interest of the nation which is already surrounded with enemies within and without. The newspaper will help democracy by being responsible, desisting from giving distorted information. Also, I wish you, editor of a publication that stands for truth and harmony, every imaginable success in your battle against the farmers of weeds.
Attack On AP Pastor, Serious

Nalgonda (Andhra Pradesh), September 22 (Joseph Keenan for The Christian Post) : Veiled men attacked a pastor on Sunday after the worship service, injuring the pastor who received nine stitches on his head and still in the hospital in southeast coastal state of Andhra Pradesh (AP). According to Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the attack took place when Pastor Vanamala Parishuddam, his family and few believers were returning home after the Sunday service around 11.45 a.m. on Sunday from Yellareddygudam village, Narketpalli Mandal, Nalagonda district, Andhra Pradesh. The report said four veiled radicals on two motorcycles stopped the Pastor on the way and started beating him with the wooden sticks. Few believers who accompanied the Pastor ran away. Pastor Vanamala was profusely bleeding and collapsed on the spot, GCIC stated. GCIC said that after seeing the profuse bleeding of the pastor, the radicals ran away from that place and the Pastor’s wife and other two believers carried the Pastor to Kaminani Hospital, near Narketpally, an administrative division in the district. The doctors recommended the Pastor to go to a bigger hospital in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. The pastor was admitted to Gandhi Hospital; there he had 9 stitches on his head. Again the Pastor was redirected to get admitted at Kaminani Hospital - another Hospital in the city. Pastor’s condition is very serious and he is still under medical treatment in the hospital, GCIC, Christian advocacy group and the voice of the persecuted India Christians reported. Pastor Vanamala’s brother lodged a complaint against the radicals at Narketpalli Police Station on Monday, no arrest have been made so far. According to GCIC, the 40-year-old Pastor Vanamala Parishuddam of Gospel Ministry has been ministering in Yellareddygudam Village for the past 4 years. About 30 families gather for the Sunday services. Pastor and his wife Prasanna are blessed with two children. Bangalore-based GCIC has requested believers to pray for Pastor’s early recovery.

Chandigarh: Meanwhile, the so-called writer Hari Ratan Yukta, who commented against the Bible, has presented his unconditional apology before the Christian community. It is really a victory for the Christianity.
The Derogatory Comments Upon The Bible May Be A Danger To Communal Harmony In Punjab

Chandigarh, September 21, (Peter Masih Patras) : The derogatory comments upon The Holy Bible, by a so-called writer, may really be a danger to the communal Harmony in Punjab. An article has been published on the 16th September 2009, written by one Hari Ratan Yukta in the Punjabi daily 'Rozana Spokesman', which is available even on the Internet website. It has wrongly translated verses from the New Testament of the Holy Bible i.e. 1 Corinthians 7:25, 35-36. Its blasphemous comments say,"A father may get coition even with his daughter." Such derogatory and blasphemous comments upon the whole Christianity can never be tolerated. Various Christian leaders of the Punjab & Chandigarh has strongly condemned such sacrilegious act. They have appealed to Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister of Punjab, to prosecute such anti-social writer. Mr. Joginder Singh Sahni, the Editor of the Punjabi Daily could also have some prudence before publishing such a non-sense article of an insane person as only an Editor is ultimately responsible for his or her every piece of publication in a newspaper. We want to remind such persons that the Christianity was always supreme with the numbers of its followers and the statistics are increasing day by day in favour of it. If such remarks would have included in the Holy Bible, it might never be No. 1 in the world. Mr. Yukta or Mr. Fukta, whatsoever he is, millions of such people shall never be successful in defaming the Christianity by writing such ill-mannered articles. Every person of the world should know that only The Holy Bible has given the Universe the terms with its Gospel like forgiveness, non-violence etc. None other could do so as Our Saviour Jesus Christ did and is still doing, because he is the only living God in the Universe.
A Christian Youth Killed In Sialkot Jail

Sambarial (Sialkot, Pakistan) September 18, 2009. (Pakistan Christian Post) Robert Danish alias Falish Masih was mysteriously found dead in special security zone of Sialkot Central Jail on Tuesday at 8:30 am. His dead body's photographs have been sent by some readers of Christian Fort.Com. Robert Danish was arrested under section 295 B PPC on September 11, 2009, vide FIR number 1176/207/09 of Sambarial Police Station on complaint of Mohammad Asghar Ali resident of village Jhethey Key. He was produced before local magistrate and sent to judicial custody in Sialkot Central Jail where he was killed according to his family. Mr. Riasat Masih, father of Robert Danish alias Falish have refused to perform funeral of his son until killers are not arrested. The family members talking to PCP said “we not believe in suicide theory of jail authorities because Robert was not a coward who present himself in Police Station when police detained his father” “Muslim jail officers are involved in his killing” one of Robert Danish relative told PCP There is widespread anger among Christians in Pakistan after news of killing of Robert Danish in jail custody. According to PCP, Christians of Sialkot have announced to observe two days strike and mourning on killing of Christian youth. The incident was conspired by local Muslim clerics who hoisted banners with slogans “Kill the blasphemers” on Wazirabad-Sialkot road in Sambarial after incident of Gojra where Muslim burnt alive Christians on August 1, 2009. The village Jhethe Key is at distance of 20 kilometer from Sialkot and in jurisdiction of Sambarial sub-district where 30 Christian families are living with 100 hundred Muslim families over a century with religious harmony. On September 11, 2009, a village barber named Mohammad Asghar Ali accused Robert Danish to push her daughter Hina Ali who was coming home after Quran recitation. Asghar Ali complained in FIR with police that Robert Masih took Quran Supara from hand of her daughter and threw it in drain and case under blasphemy was registered. The Muslims of village were already accusing Robert Danish having an affair with Muslim girl Hina and threatening to kill him if he will not leave Muslim girl. The friends of Robert Danish told PCP that there were rumors to involve Danish Masih in blasphemy case from months. Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have strongly condemned killing of Robert Danish and demanded arrest of killers. The Indian Christians including The Christian Fort.Com expresses sympathies towards the victimized family and pray for Robert Danish.
Karnatka Christians Arrested For Running Boys’ Hostel

Bangalore, September 16 : Karnataka police accompanied by 10 Hindu activists arrested on 28 August a Christian operator of a boys’ hostel after accusing him and another Christian of offering food, shelter, education and future job prospects to the children as an “allurement” to convert to Christianity. Hanuma Naik is also pastor of Indian Gypsy Works Fellowship. After his release on bail the next day, he dismissed the allegations as fabricated, saying that parents of the 42 students voluntarily sent their children, aged six to 19, to the hostel. The parents had prior information and knowledge that Christian teachings are part of the programme at the church-run hostel, popularly known as a “Christian Ashram,” he said. Sub-Inspector Chemaiah Hiremath told Compass that the students were forced to pray to the biblical God. He said that the two Christians had promised the parents of the boys that they would take care of all the children’s needs for food, clothing and education – a potentially criminal activity under draconian “anti-conversion” laws in force in some states, but not in Karnataka. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that after falsely accusing Pastor Naik and colleague Rama Naik, the extremists slapped Rama Naik repeatedly and questioned many of the children about hostel activities, their studies and families. (Inspire Magazine)
Concerns Rise As New Pakistan Church Attacked

ISLAMABAD (Pakistan), September 15 (AFP) — A rights group raised concern Monday that vigilante attacks were increasing against religious minorities in Pakistan when another church was damaged, weeks after an angry mob killed seven Christians. About 100 people, mostly youths, attacked a Catholic church in the Sambrial district near the Indian border on Friday after accusing a young Christian man of desecrating the Koran, police said. “They set fire to prayer mats and some religious books but the timely arrival of police prevented the situation from taking an ugly turn,” local police official Rafaqat Ali told AFP by telephone. “The church suffered no major damage,” he said. Police arrested a man accused of “snatching and desecrating” a copy of the Koran from a girl while she was going to school, he added. Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti visited the area Monday and vowed that the government would “reconstruct” the church. “No one from minorities can even think of desecration of the holy Koran,” he said in a statement released in English. “Some people want to destabilise the country by doing such things, but the government will not allow anyone to play with the lives and properties of the minorities,” he added. Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law carries the death penalty although no one has ever been sent to the gallows for the crime. Human rights activists say the legislation is often exploited for personal enmity and encourages Islamist extremism and have demanded it be repealed. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed concern Monday over the “increasing frequency of violent attacks on religious minorities” and demanded the government prosecute those responsible and act to prevent such violence.
For A Christian Priest, Quran Is As Dear As The Bible

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), September 14 (IANS) : For 65-year-old priest G.S. Francis, the Holy Quran is as dear as the Holy Bible. The Church of South Indian (CSI) parish vicar Francis has been reading the Quran for an hour everyday during the fasting month of Ramzan for the past two decades. “The Old Testament and the Quran are almost similar and I do read it every day for an hour during the month of Ramzan. In fact in the course of theology, the holy books of other religions like the Ramayana and Quran are taught,” he said. “I learned theology at a seminary by attending a part-time course. It was in 1989 that I was ordained as a priest. The state government allowed me to don the cassock because I agreed to do the priestly duties as an honorary service,” he added. Francis retired from the state government as deputy development commissioner in rural department a decade back and has been a priest in the church since then. The church is located at Thalassery in Kannur district. He said during the month of Ramzan he fasts when he has no other duties to perform. “It has become a practice for me ever since I became a priest to refer to religious books like Quran and Ramayana. This helps me to understand other religions. This reading helps me when I deliver messages in the church. One gets knowledge for preaching when one studies other religions because a comparative study is required and I am happy doing this,” Francis said.
A Church Near Bangalore Attacked

Bangalore, Sept 12 (mangalorean.com): Opposition leader in the Karnataka Legislative Council V S Ugrappa condemned the incident of attack on a Church at Hebbagodi locality in Anekal taluk Thursday night. Addressing a press conference in the lobby of the Karantaka Legislative Council here today, Mr Ugrappa said some miscreants had attacked the Church at Hebbagodi and damaged some statues. Charging the BJP government with creating an atmosphere where people belonging to minority community would live in constant fear, Mr Ugrappa demanded the government to take all measures to protect interests of all sections of society. Strongly condemning the attack on a church, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President R V Deshpande today demanded a CoD inquiry into the incident and the arrest of the culprits. Addressing a press conference here, he said “ though the ruling BJP assures protection to Minorities, the series of attacks on Churches are continuing. The government has totally failed to maintain law and order in the State.” Urging the State Government to come out with the truth about the Church attack at Hebbagudi, on the outskirts of the city early today, Mr Deshpande said the government, which had lost the confidence of minorities and weaker sections should take immediate steps to regain their confidence by maintaining law and order effectively. KPCC Working President D K Shivakumar, who was present alleged that it was the handiwork of BJP outfits and the party had lost control over the workers. Taking strong exception to Home Minister V S Acharya terming the incident as ‘minor’ and culprits would be booked, Mr Shivakumar said ‘the statement by the Minister was irresponsible and he should define ‘velocity.’ “Since the attack, whether minor or major, has affected the sentiments of the Christians, the Minister should have assured protection instead of terming the incident as low velocity,” Shivakumar said. Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah said Congress leaders would meet Governor today to highlight the BJP Government’s failure to tackle the problem of attack on churches. Speaking to reporters at Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, he said the party would request the Governor to give direction to the government in this regard.
Orissa Convictions Strengthen Indian Christians

Bhubneswar (Orissa, India), September 11 (CNS) — Catholic leaders in India’s Orissa state say the convictions of six people for offenses committed during last year’s anti-Christian violence have convinced Christians that justice is within their reach. The Sept. 7 convictions on charges of riot and arson have “strengthened our people’s morale,” said Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, whose archdiocese includes Kandhamal, the district where much of the violence occurred. The archbishop spoke to the Asian church news agency UCA News. Father Ajay Singh, a social activist working among victims of the violence, agreed that the court verdicts “emboldened” Christians to pursue court action against their attackers. “However, they have lots more challenges to face,” the priest told UCA News. Christian lawyers and social workers say witnesses have become uncooperative in court following threats to their lives. They report that gunmen comb villages for people named as witnesses in cases related to the anti-Christian violence. The predominantly tribal district of Kandhamal was at the center of four months of violence that left about 90 people dead and 50,000 displaced. The attacks began Aug. 24, 2008, a day after Maoists gunned down a Hindu religious leader in Kandhamal. Hindu radicals blamed Christians for the murder and led rampaging mobs that destroyed houses, churches and convents, and killed people who refused to convert to Hinduism. The state police have registered 831 cases based on the violence. A church official told UCA News that police have filed charges in only 310 cases, but are investigating the remainder.
Pak Christians Stage Protest Demo, Damage Vehicles

Lahore (Pakistan), August 7 (The News) : Hundreds of Christians on Wednesday protested against the Gojra attack blocking Ferozepur Road and damaging transport vehicles in the provincial metropolis. The protest was organised by the Christian organisations to give vent to their feelings arising out of the brutalities committed against them in Qaur and Gojra levelling allegations of blasphemy. The protest started from Youhanaabad and ended on Ferozepur Road after two hours. The protestors were chanting slogans like ‘Zalmo Hasab Do Khoon Ka Hisab Do.’ The protestors went berserk when they started damaging public transport’s windowpanes. They said that attack on Christians was planned and it happened due to sheer negligence of the administration. They said that the government should provide complete protection to the minorities in the country. Pakistan Christian Labour Party (PLCP) Central Chairman Pervez Sindhu said the Christians had shown complete unity with the Muslims at the time of partition and both the communities had been living in harmony since then. He said that it was not justice to burn the Christians alive and also make them subject to torture and violence under the garb of desecration. He demanded impartial inquiry into the incident so that real culprits could be exposed and punished without any procrastination. He said that Blasphemy Law was misused against the minorities after the Zia era. He urged the government to review Blasphemy Law so that minorities could not be victimised in any case. He said that the Christians were targeted in Shanti Nagar and Gojra using allegations of blasphemy. He said that the Christians were feeling insecure in the country and the government should provide them complete security. The protest was organised by Ch Saleem Akhtar while Tariq Javed, Javed Gill and many other Christian religious figures along with many young Christians participated in the protest.
Christian School, Principal Attacked In Gujarat

Ahmedabad (Gujarat), August 5 (Indian Catholic) : Hindu extremists allegedly from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) and Bajrang Dal (Youth Wing of the VHP) on attacked a Christian school and the principal in Dahod, Gujarat. According to an EFI correspondent, Rev. Johny Desai, a few female students in St. Stephen’s High School went to the school wearing henna tattoos on their arms. The teachers asked the girls to wash off the tattoos as too much application was against the school rules and regulations. The parents of one unidentified student took the matter to the Hindu leaderss. The following day, in an apparently pre- planned move, the Hindu hardliners stormed the school with a local television channel. The extremists questioned the school principal, Fr. C. Rayyapan, on why they have asked the girls to wash off their henna tattoos. Unable to listen to reason, they started beating father Rayyapan, verbally abusing him and striking him on his head and body. The Hindu hardliners also desecrated the statue of ‘Grotto of our Lady” installed in the school premises. The school remains closed on the following day as a sign of protest against the incident and a black badge was wore by Christians in the area. The Christians lodged a police complaint but no arrests had been made at press time.
Eight Pak Christians Killed By Muslim Mob

Lahore, August 3 (BBC & Al Jazira) : Eight Christians have been killed in religious unrest in Pakistan’s central Punjab, after days of tension sparked by the rumoured desecration of a Koran. The four women, a man and a child died as Muslim militants set fire to Christian houses in the town of Gojra. Two men died later of gunshot wounds. TV footage showed burning houses and streets strewn with debris as people fired at each other from rooftops. Officials said the rumours which led to the unrest were false. Minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that a Christian neighbourhood had been attacked by a mob “misled by Muslim extremists”. Mr Bhatti accused police of negligence, saying he had himself visited Gojra on Friday and asked for protection for the Christians. Pakistan’s small Christian minority has periodically been targeted since Pakistan became a US ally in the so-called War on Terror. In May 2007, Christians in the north-west of the country sought government protection following threats of bomb attacks if they did not become Muslims. 40 houses and a church were set ablaze amid riots with Muslims in eastern Pakistan, officials have said. Dozens of people were also injured in the violence in Pakistan's Gojra village, which erupted after allegations surfaced that a Quran had been defiled, the officials said on Saturday. "Six Christians including a child were killed and more than a dozen were injured in this sad incident," Shahbaz Bhatti, a federal minister of minorities told. "Some people blamed the Christians for the desecration of the holy Quran," he said adding that the accusations were "baseless". Mohammad Saleem, a correspondent for The Dawn newspaper in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera: "The clashes erupted when a boy of a Christian community allegedly desecrated a few pages of the holy Quran. "The Christians said the Muslims were in a mood to attack the locality." Police said that unrest between the two groups of villagers first flared late last month over a dispute over the Muslim holy book, which was later resolved. But tensions erupted on Saturday when the Christian group were attacked again and their houses set on fire. "Today, according to our information ... this is the same issue of alleged desecration of the Quran," Inkisar Khan, the city police chief, told reporters. "All the dead are Christians. I was told that they were burned alive." Television footage from the area showed police using tear gas to disperse an angry mob. Desecrating the Quran is punishable by death under the blasphemy laws of mainly Muslim Pakistan, but no such sentences have been carried out. Christians, who make up less than three per cent of Pakistan's population of 150 million, say the blasphemy laws are used as an excuse to victimise them.
Catholic Priest Murdered In Karnatka

Mangalore, August 1 (The Christian Messenger): A Catholic priest, identified as Father James Mukalel, 39, was found murdered in a remote place on a roadside in a village near Mangalore in Karnataka on July 30. The priest belonging to the Belthangady diocese in Karnataka, was killed when he was returning to his parish, after attending the funeral of one of his earlier parishioners in Thottathady village, according to Daiji World local online news. According to diocesan social work director Fr. Thomas Kannankal, the death of the priest appears to be a clear case of murder, as his body was found naked and lying away from the motor bike he was riding. Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a Christian advocacy group, has already called for a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) investigation into the case. The body did not bear any injury marks, but it was apparent that someone suffocated him to death, Fr. Kannankal said. Mukalel was originally from the diocese of Tellichery and had opted to work in Belthangady diocese. Belthangady is a division within Dakshina Kannada, according to reports. Kannankal told UCA News that the priest served in Kutrapady parish and had gone to Thottathady parish to attend a funeral. After the funeral, he visited some homes and ate dinner in a convent in the parish. He started to head back on his motor bike at around 9 pm on July 29. Some parishioners noticed his naked body lying by the roadside at around 7 am on July 30. Dakshina Kannada was in the news last year when the Bajrang Dal in Mangalore attacked over 30 prayer halls in September. As many as 53 Christians were injured in the attack.
Delhi HC To Decide Successor Of Church Of England

New Delhi, July 30 (UNI) : The Delhi High Court clubbed together the petitions of three respondents — Anglican Church of India, Church of North India and Church of India — and will decide on merits the natural successor of the Church of England. Each of the three respondents claim to be the successor of the principal Church -Church of England- whose properties worth crores of rupees are spread across India. The three have filed various petitions against each other making their claim to the property. Justice S Ravinder Bhat clubbed the three petitions and directed the respondents to provide copies of documents to one another so that no time is wasted in completing the technical work and the court can start with the arguments on the issue of- Who is the real successor of the Church of England. Counsel for the Anglican Church of Indian, S M Pandey, said it was a missionary Church of England through Church Mission Society (CMS), founded in 1799. CMS missionaries came to India in 1814 and reached Kerala in 1816 where they worked with the Orthodox Christians in Kerala. After a few years of collaboration, the missionaries insisted that the Orthodox Christians should follow the theology of the Protestant Churches. This approach led to the end of cooperation between CMS missionaries and the Orthodox Christians. Quoting the history of the church, Bishop Samual S Prakash of Lucknow diocesan said the isolation of missionaries led evangelisation among non-Christians of Kerala: Cheramar (Pullaya), Sambavar (Paraya), Sidhanar (Kurava) and Aryans (Hill Tribes). The missionaries could not directly interact with them as they did not know the language. They sought the help of English-educated Orthodox Christians. Rev. George Mathan Kasis of Mallappally was the first to help them. Rev. Hawksworth, a CMS missionary at Thiruvalla, and Rev. George Mathan were authorised by the archbishop to undertake the efforts. Senior lawyer Wg Commander(retd)S C Malhotra with lawyers S M Pandey, Ashok Nagrath and Ms Ritika, appearing for the Anglican Church provided a list of properties worth Rs 65 thousand crore spread in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states and made their claim to it. He claimed that though the Anglican Church was the real owner of this land, the possesion was with Church of North India, who run institutes like St Stephen’s College and hospital. Mr Pandey said the Church Act came into existence in 1927 and the church of England handed over all its possession to the Anglican Church, therefore, they are the sole successors of the property. The Church of India is a society comprising six churches also claiming to be the sole successor of the Church. The Apex Court had directed the High court to settle the suit on priority basis. The matter will come up for hearing on October 6.
Indian Catholics Targeted By Fellow Christians

Kohima (Nagaland, India), July 28 (Aid to the Church in Need) : Some Protestant groups in north-east India are preventing thousands of people from converting to Catholicism – according to a leading bishop there. Bishop Jose Mukala reported an upsurge in attacks and propaganda against the Catholic Church in the mainly Protestant region of Kohima, including thinly-veiled threats on his life, destruction of church buildings and a ban on conversions by village elders. Speaking to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Mukala spoke out against some Baptist communities and Evangelical church groups in the mainly Christian region, saying that people were being denied freedom of religion. In an interview during a visit to ACN’s international headquarters in Germany, Bishop Mukala said: “There is a big increase in the number of people in the diocese wanting to become Catholic but there is very strong opposition among some of the local Protestant leaders. These issues have got a lot worse recently.” “If this opposition stopped, there would be a flood of conversions to Catholicism.” The bishop said some Evangelicals – local self-governing Churches – as well a number of Baptists were alarmed at the rise of Catholicism in Kohima. In Kohima district, in the border state of Nagaland, Catholicism arrived as late as 1951, when the first faithful were baptised. Now Catholics have grown to 58,000 in a total population of 1.9 million, most of whom are Evangelical Christians. Bishop Mukala described how on a visit to the few Catholic families living in a small village in the diocese, he was suddenly called to a parish meeting where the elder warned of “something happening” to him if he returned. The bishop continued: “When he told me this, I replied that if something did happen to me, it would be the elder’s responsibility. So far, nothing has happened.” In another village, Christian fundamentalists are accused of being behind the destruction of a Catholic church which could only be rebuilt under police protection. The threat of further violence forced the bishop to take out law suits against individuals accused of carrying out the attacks on the Church. Bishop Mukala explained that blame for the anti-Catholic activity did not lie with religious leaders but with local fanatics in specific towns and villages. He said: “The opposition does not come from Protestant pastors, but from village leaders."
Orissa Christians To Mark Aug 23 As Peace Day

Bhubaneswar, July 26/27 (IANS) : To ‘forget the past and build a cohesive society’, a Christian group in Orissa said it will mark as peace and harmony day Aug 23, when a Hindu leader was murdered last year triggering communal riots in the state. ‘Peace and harmony were shattered following the gruesome murder of Swami (Laxmanananda Saraswati). Let us forget the past and build a cohesive society, ravaged by some criminals,’ Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Raphael Cheenath told reporters. ‘It is the evil design of the criminals to divide the civil society on religious lines, which should be thwarted’, he said. He appealed to the state government to ensure security of minority communities and places of worship on the ‘sensitive day’ in the state. Christian community will take out peace marches, religious interactions in different parts of the state, expressing solidarity with all communities. Orissa’s Kandhamal district, some 200 km from here, witnessed communal violence following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Saraswati and four of his aides Aug 23 last year. Over 25,000 Christians were forced to flee after their houses were attacked by mobs. Although no communal violence has been reported from the region since October last year, nearly 1,200 people are still living in three government-run relief camps.
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