Church vandalized in northern India

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Gorakhpur, December 30, 2016: Six people were injured when a group of about 60 alleged Hindu activists attacked a church in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India.

The attackers alleged that the church was forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.

“The attackers were waving saffron flags and were armed with sticks. They barged into the church and kept chanting Jai Shri Ram, (hail Lord Ram)” AB Lal, pastor of Full Gospel Church at Moti Pokhra area in Gorakhpur, told The Times of India.

The pastor also said the attackers had claimed that they belonged to Hindu Yuva Vahini (Hindu youth force) and other Hindu groups. The miscreants vandalized the church for almost an hour, he added.

Police said they have registered a case against unknown persons on the complaint made by church authorities.

HYV, however, denied the allegations. “I don’t know anything about it. We were not a part of the attack,” said Vinay Paswan, media in-charge of the outfit.

- matters india

Pro-Hindu party to complain against Goa archbishop

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Panaji, December 30, 2016: The Shiv Sena on December 30 said it would file a formal complaint against Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman for “interfering” in the election process.

“Church is a religious place and archbishop heads it. He cannot call all the political leaders and speak about his community. Election Commission should take cognizance of it,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told reporters in Goa.

He was referring to the recent statement by the archbishop that the Church would guide the faithfuls on voting during upcoming Goa elections, India Today reported.

The archbishop said this in the presence of federal Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, Goa Governor Mridula Sinha and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

Raut said those sitting in front of the archbishop should also face action.

“We will be filing a formal complaint to the Election Commission of India in this regard,” he added.

- matters india

In wake of video appeal, Indian Christians clamor for salesian priest’s release

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kerala, December 30, 2016: The chorus of pleas for the release of Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped by ISIS in Yemen in March, has reached a crescendo in his native southern Indian state of Kerala following the disclosure of his emotional video appeal for his release.

“We are holding special prayers on New Year Sunday in all the churches for Father Tom’s release,” Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the vibrant Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, told the Register on Dec. 29.

Cardinal Alencherry shared this information after meeting half a dozen anguished relatives of Father Uzhunnalil who had rushed nearly 40 miles from Ramapuram, their native parish, to submit a memorandum to Cardinal Alencherry when he was leading an ordination service at Mukkoottuthara, 90 miles east of Kochi.

“The video is very disturbing. We are seriously concerned about the health and safety of Father Tom,” V.A. Thomas, the priest’s eldest first cousin and leader of the delegation of relatives, told the Register.

Father Uzhunnalil was abducted on March 4 the Missionaries of Charity home for the aged in Aden, where four MC nuns were murdered, along with 12 others, in an attack by members of the Islamic State group (ISIS).

The five-minute video appeal of the kidnapped Salesian that surfaced in Christian heartland of Kerala on Dec. 26 has gone viral in the social media. Father Uzhunnalil is seen (possibly forced) reading out an appeal with gasping breath, making an emotional appeal for his release to the Indian government and the church.

In the video, the kidnapped priest blamed both the Indian government and the Church for their failure to secure his release. He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the government of India — including its president and prime minister — and yet “I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard.”

“If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value … Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video.

“I have no doubt that Father Tom is being forced to say those things including blaming the Church of inaction. We are worried about his health condition,” said Thomas, who was headmaster to the 56-year-old priest during his student days at Ramapuram.

“It is a sad reality that despite the concerted efforts and pleas from the Church, there has not been much political pressure [from the government] to ensure his release,” said the relatives in their memorandum urging the Syro-Malabar Church, from which the kidnapped priest hails, to exert greater at all levels for his release.

Government Response

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, India’s federal minister for minority affairs, called on Cardinal Alencherry in his office on Dec. 27 and assured that the government was “doing everything possible” during his visit to the Church headquarters in Kochi.

However, Rajnath Singh, the federal interior minister, during a visit to a popular Hindu temple at Guruvayoor on Dec. 28, caused an embarrassment to the government by reinforcing questions about whether government was doing enough to secure the release of the priest kidnapped in war-torn Yemen.

“Who is Uzhunnalil?” retorted Singh, the federal interior minister, when media persons covering his visit probed him on government efforts to get the Kerala priest released. Subsequently, media and senior officers had to explain to the interior minister who the priest was.

Meanwhile following Father Uzhunnalil’s emotional appeal for release generating big headlines, news reports have appeared in some media suggesting the priest was to be blamed for the kidnap.

“Fr Tom went against official advisory” read the headline of a major news report in the Times of India published on Dec. 27.

However, his cousins pointed out that the report never mentioned that Father Uzhunnalil had been working in Yemen for more than 14 years.

The relatives of the kidnapped priest also said that they were “saddened” by reports in a section of Christian media raising doubts about the identity of the priest in the video.

“The gap between his teeth, a damaged finger from childhood and his voice — all these leave no doubt about his identity. We morphed his [beardless] photo with the beard seen in the video and the picture matches,” noted Thomas Uzhunnalil, a cousin of the kidnapped priest.

“It is painful for us that such reports have appeared in the when attention should have been on the desperate appeal for saving his life,” he added.

The Salesian order and the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia also have both indicated they regard the video to be authentic, although the vicariate, which represents the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen, noted that “the source of the video, the date of its creation and the circumstances under which it was recorded are unknown.”

Additional Appeals

While the Indian government has cited lack of a stable government in Yemen for the delay in his release, Archbishop Susai Pakiam, president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, in a statement on Dec. 27 requested the “release of the kidnapped priest without further delay.”

“Notwithstanding technicalities involved, the delay is seen by the common people as a lapse of the part of those concerned,” said Archbishop Pakiam, who heads the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, Kerala’s capital.

Meanwhile, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who was in Trivandrum to inaugurate Indian History Congress, on Dec. 29 assured that the government will make every effort to get the priest released from captivity.

And endorsing the Christian concern over the fate of the priest, the Kottayam district chapter of the ruling Communists in that area of Kerala announced that its party members will send 50,000 letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding the release of Father Uzhunnalil.

- nc register

What are the ‘12 days of Christmas’?

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

As we’re reminded every Advent, our Catholic Christmas customs are somewhat at odds with the secular “holiday season,” which starts before Thanksgiving and goes on until the last college bowl game. But even though we Catholics wait a bit to get going, we have a similarly long season of celebration, of which the “12 days,” made famous by a certain 12-verse carol, are but a piece.

The 12 days themselves are simply the time between the two major Christmas feasts: the Nativity of the Lord on December 25 and Epiphany on January 6. Since Christmas was the major “birth” feast in the ancient Western churches and Epiphany was the biggie for the Eastern churches, the days between them inevitably gained significance. The exact origins of particular observances and festivals, though, are a little harder to nail down.

Like many Christian festivals, the roots of the Christmas season can be found in pre-Christian religions and folk customs. The date of Christmas, for example, is likely connected to an ancient multi-day Roman feast related to the winter solstice. The “12 days” are probably an adaptation of the pre-Christian winter festivals of northern Europe, “Yule” among them. These celebrations helped ancient Europeans get through the longest nights of winter.

Ancient Christians found a happy coincidence between these festivals that sought the sun’s return and the birth of the “Light of the world.” Pagan festivals became Christian festivals, with many traditions remaining intact. Yule logs and lighted trees, holding off the seemingly endless night, are examples of such adaptations. Sometimes, though, to tone down the partying, some local bishops tried to institute fast days, especially just after the New Year, to stamp out pagan practice.

The Christmas carol comes from 16th-century Europe. But the 12 days are really only part of our Christmas observance, which also includes important feast days in honor of Stephen, the first martyr (December 26); John the evangelist (December 27); and the Holy Innocents, the infants slain by King Herod (December 28, Matt. 2:16–18). These are known as the comites Christi, “companions of Christ,” because their lives gave unique witness to Jesus through martyrdom (Stephen and the Innocents) and the written word (John).

Other Christmas feasts include the Holy Family (Sunday after Christmas) and Mary, Mother of God (January 1). The liturgical season of Christmas ends with the feast of the Lord’s Baptism (Sunday after Epiphany).

Unfortunately, like the 50 days of Easter joy that we often forget after a rigorous 40 days of Lenten fasting (notice which is longer!), our Christmas party often ends too early. But though we wait a bit to get our holy days going, they carry us far beyond the Orange Bowl. So don’t eat all the cookies on Christmas Day!

- matters india

Nepal restores Christmas as public holiday

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Nepal, December 29, 2016: Reversing a decision made earlier this year, the government of Nepal restored Christmas to the list of public holidays.

The Government decision to reinstate Christmas as a national holiday, was reportedly taken under pressure from minority groups. Back in April this year, the government of former Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, a member of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist), had removed Christmas from the list of statutory holidays.

Christian leaders objected, observing that the decision would make it difficult for workers to observe the day.

In August, a rival Communist party—the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre)—assumed power, and just before Christmas, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s government restored the holiday. Dahal offered wishes of “peace, happiness, prosperity, good health, unity, and brotherhood to all Nepali Christians at home and abroad.”

Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari led the public celebrations. In her address to Christian leaders, she said that she hoped that this occasion “would reinforce feelings of love and unity among Nepali citizens and inspire everyone to respect the Constitution in the name of a peaceful and prosperous Nepal.”

The nation of 29 million has few Christians: it is 81% Hindu, 9% Buddhist, and 4% Muslim, with 3% following the indigenous Kirant Mundhum religion.

Even former Nepali King Gyanendra Shah and his son joined in the celebrations. This however was met with sarcasm from some Hindu believers and spiritual leaders (babas) who, according to local media, still aspire to see Hinduism restored as the state religion.

Nonetheless, thousands of non-Christians took part in Christmas celebrations, with shops and malls adorned with Christmas trees, lights and decorations. Christians sang carols, exchanged gifts, glorified the birth of Jesus Christ, and recited prayers, according to an AsiaNews report.

- vatican radio

Iraqi forces launch second phase in battle against ISIS to retake Mosul

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraq, Dec 29, 2016: Iraqi security forces on Thursday began the second phase of their offensive against Islamic State militants in Mosul, pushing from three directions into eastern districts where the battle has been deadlocked for nearly a month.

Since the offensive to capture Mosul began 10 weeks ago, counter-terrorism forces have retaken a quarter of the city, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq, but their advance has been slow and troops on other fronts have made little progress.

The campaign, the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein, entered its first significant pause earlier this month for a planned “operational refit.”

But on Thursday, more than 5,000 soldiers and militarised federal police troops who had redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts entered half a dozen southeastern neighbourhoods, while counter-terrorism forces advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts after receiving reinforcements.

Army forces pushed simultaneously towards the northern city limits. U.S. military advisers were seen watching operations.

“At 0700 this morning the three fronts began advancing towards the city centre. The operation is ongoing today and tomorrow and until we liberate the eastern side of the city completely,” Lieutenant General Ali Freiji, who was overseeing army operations in the north, told Reuters.

The fall of Mosul would probably spell the end for Islamic State’s ambition to rule over millions of people in a self-styled caliphate, but fighters could still mount a traditional insurgency in Iraq, and plot or inspire attacks on the West.

An officer from an elite Interior Ministry unit said on Thursday it was advancing alongside federal police in Mosul’s Intisar district. Islamic State resisted with sniper and machine gun fire, he said.

A plume of white smoke, likely to be from an air strike, rose from a southeastern district on Thursday morning while at the northern front heavy gunfire was audible and a suicide car bomb was disabled by the Iraqi army before reaching its target.

State TV said Islamic State defences were collapsing in the areas of Salam, Intisar, Wahda, Palestine and al-Quds and that fighters’ bodies filled the streets there.

The government’s accounts are difficult to confirm since the authorities have increasingly restricted the foreign news media’s access to the battle fronts and areas retaken from Islamic State in and around Mosul without providing a reason.

The military has not entered the city’s western side, whose built-up markets and narrow alleyways dating back more than two millennia will likely complicate advances.

DEEPER U.S. ENGAGEMENT

The battle for Mosul involves 100,000 Iraqi troops, members of the Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite militiamen.

U.S. commanders have said in recent weeks that their military advisers, part of an international coalition fighting Islamic State, will embed more extensively with Iraqi forces.

Some of them were spotted on a rooftop behind the front lines on Thursday, advising Iraqi commanders and watching over the operations.

An army colonel said Iraqi forces had suffered few casualties so far.

“The orders from the senior commanders are clear: no halting, no retreat until we reach the fourth bridge and link up with counter-terrorism units,” he said.

The coalition bombed the last remaining bridge connecting the eastern and western parts of Mosul late on Monday in a bid to block Islamic State from redeploying and resupplying its fighters across the Tigris River.

“The enemy is currently isolated inside the left (eastern) bank of Mosul,” Yahia Rassol, a military spokesman, said on state TV. “In the coming days, Iraqi forces will liberate the entire left bank of Mosul and after that we will tackle the right.”

The United Nations has previously expressed concern that the destruction of Mosul’s bridges could obstruct the evacuation of civilians. Up to 1.5 million are thought to remain inside.

Three residents emerged from a northern village on Thursday, including an old man who sat down in the road and wept. He said his wife had been shot dead by Islamic State when she went to collect water a day earlier. Iraqi forces searched the civilians and let them continue to a nearby village.

Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State anywhere across its once vast territorial holdings in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, has been held by the group since its fighters drove the U.S.-trained Iraqi army out in June 2014.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who previously pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year, said this week it would take another three months to rout Islamic State in Iraq.

The operation has been slowed by concern to avoid casualties among civilians, who despite food and water shortages have mostly stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as was initially expected. More than 114,00 have been displaced so far, according to the United Nations.

- christian post

Billy Graham answers: Are we living in the end times

December 30, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., December 29, 2016: While the Rev. Billy Graham has repeatedly warned against making predictions about when the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will take place, he says the End Times question people should be asking themselves is whether or not they are prepared.

In a Q&A published on Tuesday by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the renowned evangelical preacher was asked whether the last days are already here.

“I’m in my 70s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a confused world as the one we’ve experienced during this year. Are we maybe living in the last days before Jesus returns?” inquired the person.

Graham responded with a warning about predicting the exact time of the end of the world, noting that human beings have no way of knowing when it will happen.

“Jesus warned us against making precise predictions about His return; only God knows exactly when Christ will come again to bring an end to the present world system,” wrote Graham.

“Jesus did, however, say that the world would grow increasingly confused and dangerous before He returns. He declared, ‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … Nation will rise against nation’ (Matthew 24:6-7).”

Graham went on to note that the “real question” regarding the End Times is if a person is “prepared for His coming.”

“Tragically, millions never face honestly the urgency of the hour or their need for God’s forgiveness. Don’t be this way, but by faith turn to Christ and open your heart and life to Him,” continued Graham.

“Just a few days ago we celebrated Christ’s first coming into the world at Christmas — and some day we will celebrate His second coming. But in the meantime, put your life into His hands and make it your goal to live for Him every day.”

This is not the first time this year that Graham has addressed a query about the end times. In September, a person asked the evangelist about a “spiritual guru” who claimed divinity.

“Recently a so-called ‘spiritual guru’ whose followers say he is divine came to our city for a lecture. I’ve heard that Jesus is going to return to Earth someday. Could this person be Jesus?” asked the person back then.

Graham responded that the so-called spiritual guru was definitely not Jesus, as the Bible says that the Second Coming will be readily apparent to people throughout the world.

Graham then went on to address the question of when Christ will return, noting that many people have asked him that over the course of his ministry.

“I do not know, and neither does anyone else. In fact, Jesus warned us against trying to make precise predictions about His coming, or even to claim that we know, although over the centuries some have tried (and failed),” stated Graham in September.

“But I do know this: Someday Christ will come again — and then it will be too late for us to repent and be saved. And even if death comes to us before then, now — not later — is the time to put our faith and trust in Him.”

- christian postU.S., December 29, 2016: While the Rev. Billy Graham has repeatedly warned against making predictions about when the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will take place, he says the End Times question people should be asking themselves is whether or not they are prepared.

In a Q&A published on Tuesday by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the renowned evangelical preacher was asked whether the last days are already here.

“I’m in my 70s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a confused world as the one we’ve experienced during this year. Are we maybe living in the last days before Jesus returns?” inquired the person.

Graham responded with a warning about predicting the exact time of the end of the world, noting that human beings have no way of knowing when it will happen.

“Jesus warned us against making precise predictions about His return; only God knows exactly when Christ will come again to bring an end to the present world system,” wrote Graham.

“Jesus did, however, say that the world would grow increasingly confused and dangerous before He returns. He declared, ‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … Nation will rise against nation’ (Matthew 24:6-7).”

Graham went on to note that the “real question” regarding the End Times is if a person is “prepared for His coming.”

“Tragically, millions never face honestly the urgency of the hour or their need for God’s forgiveness. Don’t be this way, but by faith turn to Christ and open your heart and life to Him,” continued Graham.

“Just a few days ago we celebrated Christ’s first coming into the world at Christmas — and some day we will celebrate His second coming. But in the meantime, put your life into His hands and make it your goal to live for Him every day.”

This is not the first time this year that Graham has addressed a query about the end times. In September, a person asked the evangelist about a “spiritual guru” who claimed divinity.

“Recently a so-called ‘spiritual guru’ whose followers say he is divine came to our city for a lecture. I’ve heard that Jesus is going to return to Earth someday. Could this person be Jesus?” asked the person back then.

Graham responded that the so-called spiritual guru was definitely not Jesus, as the Bible says that the Second Coming will be readily apparent to people throughout the world.

Graham then went on to address the question of when Christ will return, noting that many people have asked him that over the course of his ministry.

“I do not know, and neither does anyone else. In fact, Jesus warned us against trying to make precise predictions about His coming, or even to claim that we know, although over the centuries some have tried (and failed),” stated Graham in September.

“But I do know this: Someday Christ will come again — and then it will be too late for us to repent and be saved. And even if death comes to us before then, now — not later — is the time to put our faith and trust in Him.”

- christian post

Can one be a Christian and yet doubt the virgin birth or the resurrection?

December 29, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., December 29, 2016: In a recent article for The New York Times, op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof asks pastor and author Timothy Keller if the belief in the virgin birth of Jesus and His Resurrection is essential to be a Christian.

The evangelical Christian leader answers the question thus:

“If something is truly integral to a body of thought, you can’t remove it without destabilizing the whole thing,” Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, wrote in the Times article, which featured both Kristof’s questions and the pastor’s answers.

“Tim, I deeply admire Jesus and his message, but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity — the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and so on,” wrote Kristof, who writes about human rights, women’s rights, health and global affairs. “Since this is the Christmas season, let’s start with the virgin birth. Is that an essential belief, or can I mix and match?” he asked.

“A religion can’t be whatever we desire it to be,” continued Keller, a New York Times best-selling author. “If I’m a member of the board of Greenpeace and I come out and say climate change is a hoax, they will ask me to resign.”

However, the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life, like the Gospel of Mark and Paul’s letter to the Galatians, don’t even mention the virgin birth, Kristof asked further. “And the reference in Luke to the virgin birth was written in a different kind of Greek and was probably added later. So isn’t there room for skepticism?”

Keller responded by saying that Jesus’ story isn’t “simply a legend.”

“(French philosopher) Luc Ferry, looking at the Gospel of John’s account of Jesus’ birth into the world, said this taught that the power behind the whole universe was not just an impersonal cosmic principle but a real person who could be known and loved,” Keller added.

“And the Resurrection? Must it really be taken literally?” asked Kristof.

Jesus’ teaching was not the main point of his mission, Keller pointed out. “He came to save people through his death for sin and his resurrection. So his important ethical teaching only makes sense when you don’t separate it from these historic doctrines. If the Resurrection is a genuine reality, it explains why Jesus can say that the poor and the meek will ‘inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5:5). St. Paul said without a real resurrection, Christianity is useless (1 Corinthians 15:19).”

Kristof also asked why did Mary Magdalene and some of Jesus’ disciples initially fail to recognize Him after the Resurrection? “So where does that leave people like me? Am I a Christian? A Jesus follower? A secular Christian? Can I be a Christian while doubting the Resurrection?” he asked.

Keller refused to draw any conclusion, saying he would need to talk to him at length first. “But, in general, if you don’t accept the Resurrection or other foundational beliefs as defined by the Apostles’ Creed, I’d say you are on the outside of the boundary.”

- christian post

Taking time to listen

December 29, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Life gets busy–especially in today’s society, and especially this time of year. A few weeks back, I took on a temporary part-time position and discovered that my days suddenly got very, very full.

I was being stretched. I was out in the world a lot, being inundated with secular music and messages on every hand. If ever I needed time in God’s Word, it was then.

Yet what happened? The busyness resulted in shortened Bible times. I didn’t mean to shorten them, it just happened, ever so subtly. And ever so subtly, I was feeling worn-out and discouraged, and I was no longer taking advantage of opportunities to share the Lord or serve those around me. Now wonder! I was like an athlete running a race who, rather than eating and drinking extra to combat the energy he was expending, instead ate and drank less than usual!

Dear reader, I know this is a busy of year, with a lot going on. But the busier life gets, the more we need time in God’s Word. How will we be able to listen to His voice, to encourage those around us with His truths, and to share Him with the lost if we are not filling ourselves with His Word–if we are not taking time to listen to His truth?

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.” Psalm 119:130,131

But how do we find time? The answer to that may be different for each one of us. I know it’s been different for me at different points in life. Just as we make time to eat, though, we can make the time for God’s Word, as it is just as vital as a good meal. At the same time, just because you don’t have time for a Thanksgiving feast in God’s Word, don’t miss out on having a spiritual dinner! One way or another, spend time with your Heavenly Father, seeking His thoughts and truths from His Word–His precious love letter to you.

- christian perspective

Odisha’s Kandhamal region celebrates Christmas in tight security

December 29, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bhuabneswar, December 26, 2016: Christians in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district if Odisha, eastern India, celebrated Christmas amid tight security.

A tribal outfit, Kui Samaj Samanwaya Samiti (KSSS) on December 23 announced that it would go ahead with 12-hour shut down on Dec 25 in Kandhamal district, the epicenter of 2007 and 2008 anti-Christian violence.

On Dec 24, KSSS withdrew the call after discussions with the district administration.

“No untoward incidents were reported from anywhere. Christian people celebrated their festival in churches across the district. The collector, the Kandhamal Superintendent of Police and other top police officials patrolled sensitive places all night,” said Inspector General of Police, southern range, Amitabh Thakur.

The administration provided police protection to most churches in the district.

The Christmas celebration went peacefully, said Fr. Nabakishore Digal, assistant parish priest at Christ the King Parish, Phulbani, district headquarters of Kandhamal.

Many people came to visit the church and Christmas crib, said Fr. Angelo Ranasingh, parish priest of Holy Rosary Church, Daringbadi, a town in the district.

“We thank sincerely to the government Odisha for the police protection for the Christmas celebration 2016,” said Divine Word Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, which covers Kandhamal.

Meanwhile, another liberal outfit based in Kandhamal, Banabasi Surakhsya Parishad (BSP, council to protect forest dwellers), condemned move by what it called communal and divided forces such as KSSS to disrupt the Christmas celebration.

“Giving a bandh call on the eve of Christmas is old and habitual disease of Mr. Lambodar Kanhar, secretary of KSSS. Previously the people of Kandhamal have rejected to such communal force and will be do so on future,” said BSP convener Narendra Mohanty.igal

- matters india

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