Abp Barwa: Odisha Church enriched by the blood of its martyrs

Light of truth

Christians in India are marking the 10th anniversary of the brutal violence that Christians of eastern India’s Odisha State faced in 2008, with a Mass in the state capital , Bhubaneswar, on August 25.

Archbishop John Barwa together with the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) are celebrating the 10th anniversary Mass at St Joseph Convent School of Bhubaneswar on the theme, “Reconciliation, Thanksgiving and Grace.”

The anniversary day is dubbed as Kandhamal Day, as most of the violence was perpetrated in the State’s Kandhamal District that comes under the jurisdiction of Cuttack Bhubaneshwar Archdiocese.

However, Arch. Barwa said that many will not be able to come for the Mass in Bhubaneswar on August 25 because of the distance and the current rainy season. But the day will be marked locally at various different levels.

The archbishop told Vatican News that 3 days after the 10th anniversary, Christians are organizing a demonstration to press for their demands.

On August 28 Christians plan to hold a public rally in Phulbani during which they intend to hand a memorandum to the state chief minister Naveen Patnaik, to demand justice and compensation that many victims and their families have been waiting for 10 years now.

But more than all these external manifestations, the archbishop said, Christians are relying on prayers.

It was under late Archbishop Raphael Cheenath that the August 2008 anti-Christian violence flared up in Kandhamal. Archbishop Barwa who took over in February 2011 noted that in the past 10 years the life of the Church in Odisha and Kandhamal has grown and enriched enormously.

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