Church in India Hailed as "Reference Point"

Despite Difficulties, Church Continues Forward

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2009 (<a href=”http://www.zenit.org”>Zenit.org).- The Church in India is a “reference point” for the region, says a Vatican official who is urging the faithful to continue to support it.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, affirmed this in an address to the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches [ROACO], at their Jan. 26-30 general assembly.

The Church in India suffered violent persecution this year at the hands of Hindu-extremists, with several Christians being killed and thousands losing goods and property.

Referring to his November visit to India, the cardinal spoke about the pastoral needs he observed, especially of the Eastern Catholic Churches in that country.

He described his trip as “a pilgrimage of peace to India in the footsteps of the saints and blesseds of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar Churches.”

Cardinal Sandri said that his presence was particularly significant in light of the recent violent acts against Christians in Orissa. “I made constant reference to tragic events in my speeches,” he noted, “assuring [the people of India] of the care, affection and prayers of the Pope and of all the Church.”

The prefect said that in spite of all the hardships, he met an ecclesial community, alive and “planning for the future, with good hopes for the considerable development that they are experiencing, even among old and new difficulties and problems.”

He said that the Church continues to offer its support in many of the social sectors, with aid that is appreciated by the people. One particular project of the Church is to offer assistance to the Indian laypeople who emigrate to other countries, to give missionary aid to the universal Church.

Hence, the cardinal stated, “I feel the duty to recommend constant support for the Church in India, a real reference point in the territory.”

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ZENIT Staff

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