The six Catholic bishops of the region of Orissa in eastern India have issued a pastoral to the faithful being persecuted there, encouraging them to rekindle their hope, expressing their solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence and thanking international organizations for their support.
According to the Fides news agency, in the letter that was read in all parishes, schools, associations, convents and Christian centers, the bishops said they were “humbled by the strong adherence to the faith” shown by Christians and that they were proud of their “capacity to put up with every kind of intimidation and threat.”
The bishops asserted in their letter that the Hindu extremist violence is a response to the Church’s work “in favor of the poor and the marginalized.” “Through education, health care assistance and development programs, the Church has raised awareness among the members of the most vulnerable communities, who have begun to demand their rights. This has not pleased the powerful who see their positions threatened by the poor,” the bishops said.
They also thanked the international institutions that have raised their voice in defense of the Christians of Orissa, and they criticized “the local government and the police force for not stopping the aggressors.” At the same time, the bishops expressed their support for all the victims of the violence, inviting the faithful to renew their hope and courage.