Christians Mark National Day for Indian Martyrs

Churches Unite to Recall Orissa Massacres

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BHOPAL, India, AUG. 24, 2010 ( On Sunday, Christians throughout India will mark a day to remember the martyrs of that land, especially those that were killed recently in Orissa.

This National Day for Indian Martyrs marks the anniversary of the Orissa massacres in August 2008, a tragedy that «still demands justice and will likely remain unpunished,» Fides reported.

The Ecumenism Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India noted that numerous Christian denominations in that country will unite to celebrate this day annually on the last Sunday of August.

In this way, it explained, the Christians will come together «in order to gain more strength and visibility in social and civic life.»

The commission affirmed that «Christians have a common martyrology, which includes all the martyrs of the 20th century and of the current century.»

Bishop Anil Couto of Jalandhar, chairman of the Ecumenism Commission, said: «We request all Christians belonging to all denominations to remember those who died for the sake of their faith.

«The Catholic Church has a very dignified procedure to declare martyrs, saints, etc., but what we expect is to remember the sacrifice made by people.»

He explained that the memorial day is not aimed at «declaring somebody a saint» outside of this process of the Church, but rather at preserving in memory «their suffering and sacrifice as a heritage of the Christians.»

«It can inspire many generations,» the prelate noted.


Father Anbu, the commission secretary, said: «We want to honor our martyrs.

«The Christians who sacrificed their lives are from different denominations and ecclesial communities, so it could be an ecumenical effort to unite the Christians towards their great sacrifice.»

To mark the day, there will be prayer services, fasting campaigns, commemoration meetings, and symbolic gestures of solidarity such as blood drives at hospitals.

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