56 Churches Damaged in '09 in Karnataka, India

Christian Leader Says Government Is Failing in Its Duties

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BANGALORE, India, NOV. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Church of God facility broken into and damaged Tuesday night is the 56th Christian church to be attacked this year in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said the «spate of incidents against Christians is increasing in Karnataka and other states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, reflecting a growing religious intolerance,» AsiaNews reported.

«The government is failing in its duty to protect Christian minorities and keep at bay the Hindu radicals,» he added. «[…] The chain of political acquittals […] has made it clear to fundamentalists that they can get away with anything, without having to face justice.»

Anti-Christian violence in India has been particularly fierce in the past two years, with a strong wave hitting the eastern state of Orissa in 2008.

Hindu fundamentalists protest what they say are forced conversions, while Christian leaders maintain that their social services for India’s poor attract people to the faith.

In June, there was a Christian-Hindu summit in Mumbai, which the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said opened a new chapter in relations between the two faiths. However, he acknowledged that local communities have to be responsible for bringing about dialogue.

Last month, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, addressed the «fear of conversions» in Indian society and how some government authorities wish to introduce anti-conversion laws. He stressed the fact that «forced conversions,» often blamed on Christians, «are meaningless» for the Catholic Church.  Not only does the Second Vatican Council speak «clearly» against them, the prelate said, but also, «for Christians, conversion is primarily a transformation of the heart.»

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