India bishop, fearing extremist violence, cancels Christmas festivities
Faithful leaving Mass at the Lucknow Cathedral
Faithful leaving Mass at the Lucknow Cathedral
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Citing concerns about Hindu extremists, Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow, India has canceled many of the Christmas festivities in his north Indian diocese.

One of the canceled festivities is the annual Christmas ‘Dance Drama,’ whose celebration on the steps of the cathedral of Lucknow City is typically attended by more than 50,000 people, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.

The dance’s performers include seminarians and novice religious sisters and brothers. Drawing heavily on local culture, the dance drama reenacts Scriptural texts from throughout the Bible with a concentration upon the Nativity.

The two open-air performances of the dance attract a mostly non-Christian audience to St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Lucknow, a majority Hindu city with a 20 percent Muslim population. The event is a key means of outreach in the city of three million, of whom only 4,000 are Catholics.

In further changes to Christmas plans, Bishop Mathias decided not invite the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state, the Governor of Lucknow, the chief justice and other dignitaries to an event of carols, brief speeches, and a meal.

The bishop has also called off a Christmas Day gathering for around 15 priests from Lucknow and another celebration involving clergy and religious from throughout the diocese that was planned for December 30.

Father Ignatius D’Souza, the Diocese of Lucknow’s vicar general, acknowledged that people would be disappointed by the cancelations. However, he reported that an ordinary exhibition of the Christmas story will continue in the cathedral compound and said people were welcome to enter and light a candle according to the local custom.

Father D’Souza explained the decision to cancel the events, saying:

“We are concerned about fundamentalist activity. The extremists’ strategy is very long term and they might see our diocesan Christmas activities as an opportunity to take action.”

“Although we have very good security arrangements for the events and have an excellent relationship with the local police department here, we can’t be too careful. You don’t know the mind of those wanting to stir up trouble.

“Every time there are general elections, there are people wanting to inflame tensions.” General elections are planned to occur before May 2009.

According to ACN, the priest also stressed that the cancellations were made as an act of solidarity with Christians in Orissa who would be marking the first anniversary of atrocities in Khandamal, where churches were ransacked and many people were forced from their homes.

Up to 500 people have died in recurring anti-Christian attacks in the Indian state of Orissa. Violence also unexpectedly broke out in Karnataka state in southwest India, with Hindu extremists destroying many churches.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India recently urged dioceses to scale down Christmas festivities.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 18, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 23: 5-8
Gospel:: Mt 1: 18-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27