Coliseum Way of the Cross Echoes Plight of Christians in India

Prelate Chosen to Prepare Meditations for Papal Stations

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2009 ( Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, was chosen to prepare the meditations for this year’s Way of the Cross that the Pope will pray on Good Friday at the Coliseum in Rome.

A Vatican statement confirmed that “these past years the Pope, in solidarity with the suffering Christians, has called on Church leaders from persecuted Churches to prepare meditations and prayers to be used at the Good Friday devotion which the Pope will personally preside to mark the suffering and death of Jesus.”

The Indian agency SARnews reported that Archbishop Menamparampil is known for his peacemaking efforts in the ethnic conflicts in northeastern India in recent years, as well as for his advocacy for Dalit Christians — also known as social outcasts who have been a target of religious persecution in the past months in Orissa.

The report noted that the archbishop of Guwahati wrote his reflections based on the plight of persecuted Christians in India, as well as the oppressed peoples of Sudan and Congo, “who were denied their rights and human dignity.”

For the second consecutive year, Benedict XVI looks to Asia to prepare the Way of the Cross, which was prepared last Lent by Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop of Hong Kong. The cardinal is known as a fighter for religious freedom for Catholics in mainland China.

Archbishop Menamparampil, 72, has been head of the archdiocese of Guwahati since 1995. He is president of the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference Commission for Evangelization. In 1998 he was given the Maschio Award in Bombay for his work in favor of reconciliation among different ethnic groups in northeastern India.

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