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India’s Christians Offer Prayer on Anniversary of Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa

‘We gathered in prayer, remembering how many died in the 2008 Kandhamal violence.’

“Life in Christ casts a seed of love that continues to transform individuals and communities. The history of the faith of the Christians of Kandhamal can be clearly seen. Every prayer at this time is a request for peace and reconciliation.” This is what is reported by Father Udayanath Bishoyi, parish priest of the Christ the King parish, in Phulbani, and it is with this spirit that several parishes of the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, on August 25, offered special prayers for victims of anti-Christian violence in the district of Kandhamal, in the Indian state of Orissa, according to Fides News Agency.

“We gathered in prayer, remembering how many died in the 2008 Kandhamal violence”, he said. Every year the Church in India observes on August 25 the anniversary of the anti-Christian violence that took place in Kandhamal eleven years ago. “The sacrifice and faith of our faithful in Christ must not be forgotten. They always inspire many to stand firm in loving faith in Jesus Christ in the face of the persecution and trials of life on earth”, added Bishoyi.

“God bless our people of Kandhamal”, adds Father Augustine Singh, who offers pastoral counseling and psychological guidance to survivors of the violence.

“In this suffering, God reveals his mercy on all the victims and makes them a sign of his holiness and a source of his grace: through their intercession, faith is strengthened among future generations.”

Anti-Christian violence in Orissa broke out in the Kandhamal district with unspeakable ferocity: Hindu extremist groups blamed Christians for the murder of the Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. More than 100 people were killed and at least 64,000 displaced. About 6,500 houses and 395 churches were destroyed. Today about 10,000 people have not yet returned due to fear of reprisals.

According to local sources, although over 3,300 complaints were presented to the police, only 727 cases were tried in courts, where over 88% of the accused were acquitted.

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