Card. Gracias: Soon the holy martyrs of Orissa. The joy of Christians
BHUBANESHWAR, Jan 21, 2017–The Vatican is willing to open the canonization of 100 Christian martyrs killed in 2008 in Kandhamal district in the Indian state of Orissa. This was announced by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), reporting an interview with Card. Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. To AsiaNews, Orissa Christians express deep joy in seeing recognized the sacrifice of so many who have given their lives rather than deny Christ.
Father Ajaya Kumar Singh, a prominent activist and director Odisha Forum for Social Action, says: “They did not know what would become of the martyrs, have defended what they believed, that Jesus is the Christ. He had much more importance for them to follow Jesus than to have saved his life. There have been many occasions in which these martyrs could escape the death denying Jesus. But they chose to embrace death. ”
In August 2008, the Hindu radicals in Orissa have implemented the most fierce persecution against Christians , blamed the murder of the guru Swami Lakshmananda, leader of the Hindu nationalist group Vishva Hindu Parishad. In four months of violence, more than 100 people were killed; 6,500 homes destroyed; about 395 churches and places of worship damaged or demolished; more than 56 thousand people forced to flee.
In January 2016, the Catholic Church of India has decided to open the canonization cause and was entrusted to Msgr. John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, collecting information on the murdered Christians .
Martyrdom, continues p. Singh, “is nothing more than the recognition that even ordinary people find more meaning in death than in life; for them, faith in Jesus is the greatest witness and life meaning. ” Heartened “that the cardinal recognized that. It is not only a tribute to Christians who were killed, but their faith in Christ. And above all is the recognition that the values and principles set out by Jesus are implemented by simple Christians of Kandhamal “.
The announcement of the card. Gracias has rekindled hope for the relatives of victims. One of them is Kanakarekha Nayak, who lost her husband during the persecutions. “I’m happy – he says – that the cardinal has assumed the leadership of the process, which has allowed an acceleration of the cause. This gives me great confidence and consolation “. The woman he met in person the archbishop of Mumbai during the National Eucharistic Congress, and reported the story of her husband. “I said that I firmly believe – says – that his faith in Jesus, and his subsequent death for refusing to recant, would not have been in vain.”
Paul Pradhan, a Catholic lawyer whose home was destroyed during the pogroms, adds: “The martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the faith. Martyrdom is the crown of faith. Their sacrifice purifies and strengthens our faith as followers of Jesus. They will live in our minds and in our hearts. ” It is our task, concludes, “keep alive their memory. We must do this not only for us but also for the coming generations, who face the challenges of religious fanaticism.” (AsiaNews)