The Catholic community in the Indian state of Orissa praised a decision by the state government to block the construction of a Hindu temple on the foundation of a Catholic church recently destroyed by Hindu extremists. The Catholic church was located in the city of Betticola.
According to L’Osservatore Romano, when a government inspector visited the site, he was able to verify that the fundamentalist Hindus had begun building on the foundation of the church. He announced that the authorities were preventing the project from going forward.
Extremists had previously threatened to raze the church in 2000, and this past August, amidst the wave of violence against Christians, they succeeded in carrying out their threats.
Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar called the decision by the government of Orissa a "positive step." However, he underscored, given the situation of Christian refugees, "this is not sufficient, as while the faithful are taken in at refugee camps, those who attack them remain free and none has been arrested thus far."
The fear in which Catholics have lived for months was also noticed by Betticola parish priest Father Praful Sabhapati, who pointed out that "the faithful cannot return to their homes because of the atmosphere of tension that persists in the region." "The few families that have had the courage to return to their homes are constantly threatened and humiliated," he said.