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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Charities to aid Christians in Orissa?

    Papists! Help me answer this AmP reader's request:
    I'm a transitional deacon and I'm involved in a continuing formation program before ordination. There are a bunch of us here and we've decided to give some money to charity in lieu of gifts. So, we're going to make our proposals and vote on them at the community meeting next Thursday. I'd like to propose a charity to aid the Church in Orissa and was wondering if you could recommend a good one.
    What should I recommend to him?

    (More on the plight of Catholics in Orissa here.)

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    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    India v. Christians

    From the Jesuit Conference of the United States:
    The Society of Jesus in the United States is increasingly alarmed by the continuing outbreaks of violence in the India state of Orissa against Christians and other minorities by Hindu extremists. With many of our American and Indian Jesuits in the region ministering to the people of Orissa, we are extremely concerned for our brothers’ safety and the safety of the people they serve. The violence has spread and is occurring in other states throughout India, only increasing the need for greater protection by the government.

    “As soon as we received the urgent plea from our Jesuits in the area, we were called into action and joined them in solidarity against these attacks,” said Jesuit Father James Stormes, secretary for social and international ministries of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. “The Jesuits have consistently worked for peace and reconciliation in the area and are horrified by the sufferings of the ordinary people who always pay the price for these kinds of conflicts.”

    Jesuits in the U.S. have been in touch with the Department of State and the Indian Embassy to raise awareness about the violence and to call for protection of Christians and minorities. More than 26 Christians and minorities have been killed in the preceding three weeks, more than 50 places of worship have been attacked, 15 churches and convents have been destroyed and more than 4,000 homes of Christians in villages in the Kandhamal district have been burned. The distinguished Jesuit-run Xavier Institute of Management was threatened when mobs passed through the city of Bhubaneswar in the Jamshedpur Province.
    Previous AmP posts on this topic here.

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    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Rowan Williams joins call to end violence in Orissa

    Another voice added:
    he Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has added his voice to calls for an immediate end to the violence being waged against Christians in India’s Orissa state.

    “I hope that Christians and people of faith around the world will make known their horror at this violence, their support for the rebuilding of lives and the churches, orphanages and schools destroyed, and for work towards future reconciliation,” Williams said in a letter sent to the Most Rev. Joel Dal, moderator of North India.

    Rights groups estimate that around 16,000 Christians have fled the area, with many seeking shelter in makeshift government refugee camps. According to Reuters news agency, one temporary camp in Raikia village has 8,000 people crammed into two floors of a government office, where they are sleeping on the bare floor and surviving on a rice and lentil meal given twice daily. (Christian Post)
    More on these ongoing attacks, from Reuters:
    On a starry night last week, as Lal Mohan Digal prepared to go to bed, a mob of raging, machete-wielding Hindu zealots appeared above the hills of his mud house and swarmed over this bucolic hamlet in Orissa.

    By dawn, Christian homes in the village were smoking heaps of burnt mud and concrete shells. Churches were razed, their wooden doors and windows stripped off.

    "We could hear them come shouting 'Jai Shri Ram'," Digal said, referring to the rallying cry of Hindus hailing their warrior-god.
    The mob poured kerosene on the thatched rooftops of the village homes, then threw matches. Church spires were hacked down.

    The Hindu part of the village was untouched. For four days Digal and his stricken Christian neighbours hid in the teak forests, before being herded to a government-run relief camp.

    The violence replicated itself in village after village, as the rural Kandhamal district of Orissa convulsed from some of the worst anti-Christian attacks in India.

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    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Violence against Christians in Orissa subsiding? {updated}

    {updated 4:30pm, see below}

    Despite some reports of violence spreading, overall, the situation appear to be improving:

    Violence against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa appears to be subsiding after 26 people were killed and 4,000 Christian homes, churches and centers were destroyed by Hindu extremists.

    Fides News Agency is reporting that local police authorities say the violence has tapered off after a curfew was established on Monday. The police are continuing to patrol public places, town squares, centers, streets and around churches to prevent the outbreak of further violence.

    Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said this past Saturday that because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government did not deploy government troops to the region, the violence has lasted for a week. (CNA)

    Thank God. Let's keep the region in our prayers.

    Previous reports on this story:

    update: not so, says someone very close to the situation...

    Your rhetorical question seems to imply that the worst is over for Christians in Orissa. According to my Indian confreres here in Rome (and in Orissa)... Not so! I would suggest the blog "ORISSA BURNING" for continued reports on the situation.

    Many of my SVD confreres are reported there or are listed as victims of the violence:

    • Fr. Simon Lakra, SVD
    • Fr. Edward Sequeira, SVD
    • Fr. Babu Joseph, SVD
    • Fr. Augustine Kanjamala, SVD
    • Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, SVD
    • The more than 140 SVD priests and brothers in Orissa would ask that you continue to make public the persecution of Christians and their forced re-conversion to Hinduism.

    - Fr. David Streit, SVD, Asst. Secretary General, Rome

    I had no intention of dropping the story, and will continue watching and posting.

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    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Sandro Magister, others, on the growing Hindu violence

    Magister adds his commanding take to the story, which I covered extensively last week here.

    In India, the Christians' Offense Is Fighting Against Slavery

    The slavery is that of the caste system. Against this, the Christians both preach and practice equal dignity for all. Professor Parsi explains the reasons for the growing Hindu violence. And he warns about the international repercussions

    This morning, the 25,000 Catholic schools in India closed their doors for the entire day. The Indian Catholic Church has called for a day of prayer and fasting for the first Sunday in September, with peaceful processions all over the country.

    The reason is the new wave of violence that has struck the Christians in the state of Orissa. Every day, there is news of killing, wounding, rape, assaults against churches, convents, schools, orphanages, villages, carried out by Hindu fanatics. Thousands of people have had to abandon their homes and flee to the forests.

    The spark for the latest explosion of violence was struck with the killing, on August 23, of the Hindu religious leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and five of his followers. The killing was carried out by armed Maoist groups, but the Hindus used it as a pretext for blaming the Christians and taking revenge on them. [More.]

    Meanwhile, a local Indian Archbishop calls this violence a case of "Christianophobia":
    The international community must demonstrate the same commitment to wiping out growing ‘Christianophobia’ as to tackling anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, the Vatican’s foreign minister said on Friday.

    Archbishop Dominique Mamberti was speaking as Hindu mobs continue to go on the rampage against Christians in India’s Orissa state in retaliation for the killing of a Hindu leader, despite the Indian government saying that Maoists are most likely responsible for the murder. At least 13 people have been killed in the violence and hundreds of Christian churches and homes have been burned down.

    Archbishop Mamberti said religious freedom was fundamental to upholding human dignity.

    "In order to promote this dignity in an integral way, so-called 'Christianophobia' should be combated as decisively as 'Islamophobia' and anti-Semitism," he said.

    More than 3,000 people, mainly Christians, have fled from their homes to government-run relief camps or surrounding forests. - Christian Today
    Christians are not demanding special treatment, simpy equal.

    Looking at the news feeds, I'm seeing practically no major US-media coverage of this story.

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Pray for Christian victims of Hindu persecution in India

    I would be gravely amiss if I did not mention this developing story.

    John Allen has published an extensive, one-stop-read article on the topic:

    Islamic radicalism is causing great consternation these days, and rightly so. Christopher Hitchens has said it represents "an intricate cultural and political challenge that will absorb all of our energies for the rest of our lives," and while other assertions from Hitchens may be open to debate, it's tough to take issue here.

    One risk, however, is that the scramble to do something about Islam may obscure other important inter-religious challenges. Dramatic events in India this week illustrate just such a conundrum, one that deserves more attention than it seems to be getting: The worrying rise of Hindu extremism.

    Allen goes on to detail what has happened, why it is happened, and why it is significant not only for the present and future of Catholics in India, but also for the universal Church.
    On Tuesday, the Vatican issued a statement:

    "In reference to the tragic news coming from India concerning violence against the faithful and the institutions of the Catholic church, the Holy See, while expressing solidarity with the local churches and religious congregations involved, condemns these acts that injure the dignity and liberty of persons and compromise peaceful civil co-existence. At the same time, it appeals to all parties so that, with a sense of responsibility, all oppression may be ended and a climate of dialogue and mutual respect may be restored."

    Bottom line: The Vatican is watching, and isn't happy.
    For those desiring more, breaking information there is a blog "Orissa Burning" which is cataloguing the atrocities. This post, in particular, is noteworthy:

    "The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on Thursday released the number of people killed and list of Christian churches and institutions attacked and destroyed in the continuing violence that started on Monday. [Read it here.]" (Ph/t: Amy.)

    That should be something to get started. The story seems to be getting scant attention in the mainstream media.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Franciscan monks attacked "clockwork orange-style"

    Where did this come from?

    Italians have been left shocked by a ferocious assault on Franciscan monks by hooded thugs at a monastery in the foothills of the Alps, which has been compared to incidents seen in the film 'A Clockwork Orange'.

    Father Sergio Baldin, 48, the guardian of the San Colombano Belmonte monastery near Turin, and three elderly monks from the Franciscan order of Friars Minor, were having their evening meal when they were attacked by three hooded men who gagged and bound them before punching, kicking and beating them with clubs.

    ... Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Archbishop of Turin, who visited the victims in hospital, said the attack was "beyond comprehension". The only possible explanation was that the assailants had been "either drugged or possessed, or both", he said. (UK Times)

    Just evil.

    Steve Skojec, who gets the hat tip for this story, adds:

    I think it would be good to keep both the intentions of the victims and the conversion of the attackers in our prayers. It might also be worthwhile to enlist the aid of another Franciscan, St. Anthony of Padua, in finding the assailants and bringing them to justice.

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    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Update: $2.5+ million dollar ransom demanded for release of Iraqi archbishop


    The Mensajeros de la Paz (Messengers of Peace) foundation is reporting that the captors of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul are demanding $1.8 million euros in ransom money to free the Iraqi prelate who was kidnapped last Friday.

    In comments to Italian Bishops’ news service Servizio Informazione Religiosa (SIR), Bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that, "The kidnappers have called more than once asking for ransom."

    Story originally reported here the day it happened.

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    Friday, February 29, 2008

    *Breaking* Gunmen kidnap Iraqi Chaldean Catholic archbishop, kill companions

    Breaking news:

    Gunmen kidnapped the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul on Friday in the northern Iraqi city and killed his driver and two guards, police said.

    "He was kidnapped in the al-Nour district in eastern Mosul when he left a church. Gunmen opened fire on the car, killed the other three and kidnapped the archbishop," said provincial police spokesman Brigadier-General Khaled Abdul Sattar.

    An assistant to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad and spiritual leader of Iraq's Catholics, said they had heard three people were killed and they did not know the fate of the archbishop, [who is named] Paulos Faraj Rahho. - Reuters

    The previous Archbishop of Mosul, Basil George Casmoussa, was kidnapped in 2005, "but was
    released after one day of captivity and said no ransom was paid."

    Updates as I see them.

    Imagine the outcry from certain Muslims if one of their imams were kidnapped and his companions killed.

    The Chaldean from Iraq who sent me this news story is asking us to pray for the captive Archbishop.

    update: CWNews adds more:

    Bishop Paulos Faraj Raho was seized by terrorists who attacked his car as he left the Holy Spirit cathedral in Mosul after leading the Stations of the Cross on Friday, February 29. Three companions who had been in the car with him were killed.

    A Church spokesman in Iraq confirmed that the bishop was in the custody of his kidnappers, who had contacted the Chaldean Church to make a ransom demand. Iraqi Catholics did not know whether or not the bishop had been wounded in the attack.

    update 2: the Vatican response:

    Pope Benedict XVI called Friday for the swift release of a Chaldean Catholic archbishop who was kidnapped in Iraq, saying the "abominable" act was an attack on the Iraqi church as a whole.

    In a statement, Benedict appealed for "reason and humanity" from the kidnappers, who killed the two bodyguards and the driver of Mosul Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.

    Rahho was kidnapped as he left church Friday afternoon. In the statement released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican said the fact that the gunmen knew Rahho was celebrating a religious rite inside indicated the kidnapping was premeditated.

    The Vatican said the pope was immediately informed about the "abominable" kidnapping and was spiritually close to Rahho's family and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly.

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    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Report: Apostolic Nunciature in Venezuela Bombed

    Not. Cool.

    Luckily, the bomb appears to have been intended to intimidate more than to directly harm:
    Venezuelan bishops urged their government to protect the Pope's "house in Venezuela" after a bomb was set off outside the offices of the apostolic nunciature in Caracas.

    The bombing occurred Thursday, and caused only minor damages. The façade of the structure was also vandalized with political graffiti.

    The prelates reiterated their support for Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, the apostolic nuncio, and promised their prayers "for his intentions and for the successful development of his diplomatic and pastoral service." - Zenit
    The article does not directly describe the cause of the tensions, but I do know Hugo Chavez's regime has long been antagonistic to the Catholic Church in Venezuala, and its leaders in particular.

    From CWNews archives, Pope Benedict raised these issues directly with Chavez in May 2006:

    Pope Benedict XVI took an extraordinary step to challenge Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during a May 11 meeting at the Vatican.

    At the conclusion of a private conversation with the visiting Venezuelan leader, the Holy Father presented Chavez with a letter detailing the concerns of the Holy See regarding the condition of the Church in Venezuela.

    ... Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters that the Pope had used the letter to emphasize the issues that he considers most critical, including:

    • the freedom of the Holy See to nominate new bishops,
    • the preservation of a distinctive Catholic identity at the Church-run University of Santa Rosa in Lima,
    • the elimination of religious education from the school curriculum,
    • the introduction of public-health programs that undermine the right to life, and
      the need for independence in the Catholic media

    During his talk with the Pontiff, Chavez offered assurances that his government would work to ease the tensions that have characterized his relations with the Venezuelan bishops, Navarro-Valls reported.

    Zenit, in its coverage, does not elaborate on what the political graffiti said, so we can't know directly what might have motivated the attack. Was it Chavez cronies encouraged to cause trouble? Was it Venezuelans who have bought into the misinformation Chavez has spread about the Church?

    I'd appreciate someone with direct knowledge of the situation helping us out in the combox.

    In the meantime, let's pray for the Church in Venezuela.

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    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    "Sicilian bishop braves Mafia death threats"

    A Sicilian bishop who refused to celebrate the funeral Mass of a mafia boss is under police protection after receiving death threats, BBC News reports.

    Crocefisso Emanuello, head of a notorious Mafia family, died of natural causes at the age of 81. Though the family of the mob boss wanted to hold the requiem Mass in the cathedral of the Diocese of Piazza Amerina, Bishop Michele Pennisi refused.

    ..."Men of the Church must do their bit to fight the Mafia," said Bishop Pennisi, according to BBC News. - CNA (also includes video)
    Organized crime is also still a big problem in Naples. When I was there in 2003 I stayed with an Italian priest who ran, among other things, an orphanage for children whose parents had been killed by the mafia. Incredible.

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    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    "Anglican bishop fined for refusing gay youth worker"

    "An Anglican bishop has been ordered to pay a heavy fine and undergo “equal-opportunies training” for refusing to approve the hiring of an openly homosexual man for a post in youth ministry." - CWNews

    Scanning headlines all day sometimes has its toll. When I first read the headline for this story I thought it said, "Anglican bishop fined for having gay youth worker" and I thought to myself "Oh great, here we go again."

    Not only was the anglican bishop fined roughly $92,000, but "The tribunal ordered that officials of the Hereford diocese who are engaged in hiring employees—including the bishop-- should be given training to make them more sensitive to homosexual applicants."

    I wonder if the anglican diocese could refuse an athiest who wanted to direct anglican youth?

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    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Pope Benedict discusses challenges to Catholics living in Arab regions

    Today's Vatican bulletino reports:

    This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions (CELRA), the president of which is His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins.

    In his talk to them, the Pope recalled how their episcopal conference "comprises many different situations in which the faithful, natives of many different countries, often live in small communities within societies chiefly composed of believers from other religions".

    The Holy Father gave assurances that he shared "the concerns and hopes" of the people of these regions, noting how "the constant cycle of violence, insecurity and hatred makes coexistence very difficult, and can give rise to fears for the survival of your communities".

    This situation, he told the prelates, "represents a serious challenge for your pastoral service and motivates you to strengthen the faith of believers and their sense of fraternal cohesion, so that everyone may experience a hope founded on the certainty that the Lord never abandons those who turn to Him".

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    Monday, December 03, 2007

    The plight of the teddy bear schoolteacher and feminist silence

    A revealing editorial by Tammy Bruce:

    There has been appropriate international outrage over the treatment of Gibbons, from virtually everyone except American “feminists.” Multiple Muslim groups in the U.K. have condemned the sentence. Even the popular little boy in Mrs. Gibbons’ class who suggested the name for the bear came to her defense, explaining that he named the bear after himself.

    Yet, when asked by FOX News for a comment about the situation, a National Organization for Women spokeswoman said they were "not putting out a statement or taking a position."

    This is how depraved the American left has become. A little Muslim boy in Sudan shows more courage and conviction for a woman under fire than a bunch of women sitting in Washington, D.C., who preen themselves on being the premiere “advocates” for women.


    This wholesale abandonment of women by the American so-called feminist leadership on an issue that transcends party politics perfectly illustrates how vapid, and even malevolent, they have become. Where is Eleanor Smeal? Gloria Steinem? Kim Gandy of NOW has proven where she is — with the rest of her cohorts hiding behind the NOW couch, save she would be required to take a position that might "offend" Islamists.

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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    "Congo bishop survives gunfire" - CWNews

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Another day, another case of persecution in Iran

    This time a man was lashed thirty-four times and suffered "other humiliations" for having a copy of the Gospel in his car, as CNA reports. Muslim leaders of the world - protest! Oh wait.

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