An Indian priest from the state of Tamil Nadu who was attacked by Hindu extremists in August died from his injuries this week, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shivraj Patil, proposed a law to stop the wave of anti-Christian violence.
According to the L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Raphael Chenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said the priest “has received the crown of martyrs. He died as a result of Hindu extremist violence. Now the Christians of Kandhamal have a powerful intercessor in Heaven.”
Congressman Basudeb Acharya, who introduced the bill to stop the violence, said he did so to denounce “how Christians have been attacked in Orissa, and while their houses were burned and they were killed, the state government stood by as a ‘silent spectator’.”
Fides news agency reported that Archbishop Chenath’s secretary, Father Mrutyunjay Digal, said that “during his life, Father Bernard showed determination and courage in bearing witness to and dying for Christ. He died as an authentic Christian, and immediately after the aggression he suffered, he forgave his enemies and persecutors. We offer our affection and prayers to all of his loved ones in order give them strength and encouragement in this difficult moment.”