During celebrations marking the “Day for Peace and Harmony” in various states in India, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar insisted, “Acts such as anti-Christian violence must never happen again.”
The archbishop’s comments came on the first anniversary of the attacks carried out against Christians by Hindu extremists in the state of Orissa, leaving 70 people dead and hundreds of Christian homes destroyed. According to L’Osservatore Romano, the archbishop said, “The world must know what peace and harmony mean, and we must combat the tendencies that cause such extreme crimes. Violence and the shedding of blood only lead to the destruction of humanity. We must work for love, which means working for peace.”
“Now that a year has passed,” the archbishop said later, “many people still live in refugee camps and in the cities of neighboring states. Many others have been able to return home, but our people still live under threats.”
The archbishop urged Hindu fundamentalists not to obstruct the rebuilding of churches destroyed during their attacks, and warned that as long as those responsible for such violence are not apprehended by police, “the attacks against the defenseless and innocent people will continue.”
“The extremists will not back down and will continue in their efforts to erase all signs of Christianity in Orissa. But the mission continues and the violence will not stop us. The cross of Christ is our strength and our hope,” he maintained.