Priest Slain as Violence Continues in India

Nuns, Meanwhile, Are Pulling Out of School After Attack

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NEW DELHI, India, DEC. 18, 2000 (
The Indian Episcopal Conference today denounced the murder of a Catholic priest in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and expressed its “profound concern” over the wave of violence unleashed throughout the country against Christians.

Meanwhile, in eastern India, the Sisters of St. Anne have decided to leave St. Anne Girls High School in Kurpania, Bokaro, in the wake of a recent attack, SAR news agency reported.

Archbishop Oswald Gracias, secretary of the bishops´ conference, reported that on the night of Dec. 15-16 armed men raided the residence of Father John Peter in Port Blair, and killed him with knives and clubs. The murderers left propaganda behind, denouncing the conversions to
Christianity encouraged by Father Peter.

Archbishop Gracias appealed to the New Delhi government to “capture those responsible” and guarantee the security of the Christian community in the islands.

Christians constitute 2% of the Indian population. Hindu extremist groups accuse foreign missionaries, and Indian priests and religious, of converting Indian citizens of the poorest social classes to Christianity.

In Kurpania, Bokaro, the assault on the nuns and rape of a young Adivasi cook has filled the school campus with fear. Despite assurances from the government, Sister Anupa Kujur, mother superior of the Sisters of St. Anne, has decided that she and her nuns will soon leave the campus for good.

“Enough is enough!” Sister Anupa said in a press conference. “Our selfless service for the downtrodden does not merit such brutal and inhuman treatment.”

She added: “We were hopeful of responsible conduct by the administration. Instead of making efforts to nab the criminals, the entire administrative machinery is out to bury the incident and save the government´s skin.”

Sister Anupa also sharply criticized the medical report of the cook who was raped. “Look at the doctored medical report,” she said. “Will any girl, and an Adivasi at that, dare to stand up and say she was raped unless such a thing actually happened?”

The superior general informed the press that she had long discussions with Archbishop Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, and Bishop Charles Soreng of Hazaribagh, before deciding to recall her nuns from the school. She also accused some sections of the media of spreading false news, alleging that more than one woman was raped in the school. “Such reports have tarnished the modesty and honor of the six unmarried young teachers of the school,” she added.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee a few days ago, Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi denounced the cruel attacks against Christians in India. At the end of November, there were at least five such attacks.

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