Indian Archdiocese Sets Up a "Forum Against Violence"

Shocked by Recent Murder of Its Vicar General

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PATNA, India, MAY 24, 2005 ( The Archdiocese of Patna has established a forum to combat the rising violence against Church leaders and Church-run institutions in the state of Bihar.

The immediate reason for setting up the Hinsa Virodhi Manch, or Forum Against Violence, was the killing of Father Matthew Uzhuthal, 72, vicar general of Patna, who succumbed early this month after being stabbed in an attack, according to the Indian episcopate’s news service.

Clergy, nuns and lay people who are members of the new forum said that Father Uzhuthal’s murder has shocked the Church in Bihar.

«We are now united for justice, we want peace to reign in Bihar,» said Sister Teresa Kotturan, provincial of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

Father K.M. Joseph, Patna High Court advocate and a forum member, said that the Church is «distressed that even after more than one month of the attack and the consequent death of Father Uzhuthal, the culprit has not been arrested by the police.»

Patna’s vicar general was stabbed in the neck and chest on April 1 when he refused to pay extortion money to Gyan Prakash Das, a known criminal from the Munger district. In a statement to police, the wounded priest identified Das as his aggressor.

The priest was attacked in his office in Mokama. He was treated in the town’s Nazareth Hospital until April 15. Transferred to Patna’s Kurji Holy Family Hospital, he underwent an operation on his spinal column April 23. Later, his condition deteriorated and he slipped into a coma two days later. He died May 1.

Since Father Uzhuthal’s death Church leaders and human rights activists have been demanding Das’ arrest.

Forum members called for strong action against criminals who continue to harass Christians in areas such as Mokama. They have also demanded security for missionaries working in Bihar.

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