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Persecution
Death threat promises dismemberment of Indian bishop

.- A bishop in Kerala, who is an outspoken critic of the rule of the local communist party, received a letter threatening that his legs and hands would be chopped off if he continued his vocal opposition.

Bishop Joseph Porunnedom of Mananthavady reportedly first revealed the threat on December 9 saying that he received an unsigned threatening letter but ignored it. "I'm not scared. Threats can't change my stand on the issues," the 51-year-old bishop told UCA News. 

Diocesan spokesman Father Joseph Thomas Therakam said that no complaint had been made to the police.

"It's the first time a bishop is getting threatened in Kerala, a state known for harmony. It's most unfortunate," Father Therakam said. "We are not concerned about the threat," he added, insisting the Church "is not going to dilute its stand against the government's anti-people policies."

The Catholic Church in Kerala has opposed the Marxist-led coalition government mainly because of its education policies.  The policies allegedly help communists take control of Christian institutions.

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, who has barred communists from positions in Catholic parishes, warned of these alleged plans.

"After gaining power, they will change their colors by bringing pressures, challenges and misleading propaganda. (They hope) to undermine institutions in the field of education, with a hidden agenda to imposing their atheist philosophy," the archbishop said.

Some communist leaders have begun a smear campaign against bishops and other Church leaders.  One party leader at a public meeting insulted one bishop by calling him a drunkard. 

Charlie Paul, former state president of the Christian Life Community, reacted to the reported death threat: "It shows the attitude of the Marxists. If you do not fall in line with the party, they use threats to silence you. But it will not be successful with the Church."

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