Church torched by Hindu radicals as Christians face persecution

January 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Church Burnt in karnatakaTelangana, January 16, 2015: Since Prime Minister Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP took power in India in May 2014, attacks on Christians and their places of worship have skyrocketed. Among the victims of this new wave of persecution now stand the members of the only church in Tadur village located in the Mahabubnagar district of India’s Telangana state.

Approximately 70 members of the Parimala Beautiful Church used to meet in a temporary structure constructed of thatches, bamboo and tarps. This humble structure served as the only church in Tadur. On January 16, after the members of the church met for prayers from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the church was torched by unknown assailants.

At about 8:30 p.m., a local bus driver was passing by the church and noticed smoke and flames were clearly visible coming from the building. Immediately, the bus driver informed the police and the locals about the fire at the church.

Church members, police and a fire engine rushed to the church, but by then more than half of the building had been reduced to ashes. Almost everything inside the church was destroyed by the fire including carpets, instruments, and church literature like songbooks and Bibles.

A First Information Report (FIR) was booked by the police and an investigation is now underway. Fortunately, the police responded quickly and both the Circle Inspector (CI) and the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) visited the scene the next day.

Pastor D. Srinivas, of Parimala Beautiful Church, told ICC, “I have been serving as the pastor for the last six years in this village. We used to meet at church members’ houses, till last year we built a temporary structure.”

“Prior to this incident, on number of occasions, right-wing activists have threatened me and warned me not to continue the church in this village,” Pastor Srinivas continued. “The Hindu radicals have snatched the Gospel literature from me and destroyed them a number of times in the past.”

Mahabubnagar district, where Tadur village is located, has seen over a dozen anti-Christian attacks in the past few months. This wave of persecution at the hands of Hindu hardliners has ranged from physicals attacks on Christians to setting fire to church building to booking false criminal charges against pastors. The Christian community of Mahabubnagar district is gripped with fear as the number of attacks continues to increase against the minority community.

Rev. Ronald John, State Chairman of the Telangana Christian Joint-Action-Committee, told ICC, “The attacks have increased since the BJP formed the government at the center last year. Christians here are living as second class citizens.”

Like the Christian community of Mahabubnagar district, Christians across India fear this new wave of persecution that is currently crashing over the country. In a report recently released by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), at least 7,000 Christian victims suffered persecution in 2014 alone. Without dramatic change, this number will only increase in 2015.

– icc

West Bengal: Claretian priests attacked

January 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Persecution in MPWest Bengal, January 13, 2015: A mob beat up two Claretian priests in Sahanagar village in Asansol diocese accusing them of diverting toilet water to the village canal and polluting it. The villagers later apologized to the priests after they found dead dogs in the canal water.

On Jan. 8, two local Santal men met Fr. M. Thomas, house superior, to complain about the contamination of the canal water which was adjacent to the Claretian house. They accused the toilet water of the house was diverted to the canal.

Fr Thomas was ready to clean the canal though the allegation was baseless. The priests along with a few staff were preparing to clean the channel, when about 40 men and women surrounded them and began attacking Fr Thomas with hands, bamboos and bricks.

He was beaten and paraded along the canal. They demanded that the priest open the gate of the nearby St Claret school to allow the villagers to use the pond inside its compound.

They shouted that until their demand was met they would not cease beating him. As Fr. Thomas was almost collapsing, when Fr Peter Johnson, another priest went to assist him. The mob caught hold of him and tied the hands behind. He too was beaten up.

After a long ordeal the priests managed to escape and call the police to their residence while the crowd was still shouting in front of the house. After an hour, four constables reached but they could not control the crowd. By evening there were about 300 people. They were making anti Christian slogans and issuing death threats.

The Officer In-Charge of Memari, Rakesh Singh, came with additional force and met with representatives of the local people and priests. He assured fresh water for the village promising to clean up the canal with the help of the municipality next morning.

On the following day, while cleaning the municipality employees found carcasses of dogs inside the canal.

The police on Jan. 13 called a peace meeting and a delegation from the Church and locals attended. The villagers asked pardon for what happened to the priests.

– the herald

Himachal Pradesh: Sunday service stopped by VHP

January 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Christian PersecutionHimachal Pradesh, January 19, 2015: Suspected members of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday stopped a prayer meeting of Christians at Pulhara area of Solan district alleging conversions, media reports said.

The later police found the allegation baseless, according to a report in the Times of India.

Intrusion of VHP members into the prayer meeting had resulted in tension as those present there had resisted the move. But before the situation could turn violent someone had informed the police.

Organizers of the prayer meeting claimed that they had been meeting every Sunday for a long time and stopping them from doing so was against the law.?

On Monday VHP submitted a memorandum to Himachal Pradesh governor Urmila Sinngh on the issue of love jihad and conversions.

The memorandum said that till 15 years back there was not even a single instance of conversion or love jihad in Himachal Pradesh, but now the same is on the rise.

Reacting to the reports on ‘love jihad’, chief minister Virbhadra Singh said that till now not even a single case had come to his notice. “But if there had been any such case, it should be brought forward so that inquiry could be conducted,” he added.

– toi

10 One liners about India that are completely true!

January 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

1. If you want to know how divided we are, just look at matrimonial page of our newspaper!

2. India is running the software of tomorrow on the hardware of yesterday!

India

4. If the mobile gets spoiled blame the child, if child gets spoiled blame the mobile!

5. If someone asks for dirty cloth to clean something you are in India!

dirty-colth

6. The only country where people fight to be termed ‘backward’!

7. In India, you don’t cast your vote, you vote your caste!

Vote

8. An incredible country where actors are playing cricket,  cricketers are playing politics, politicians are watching porn and porn stars are becoming actors!- vicious circle indeed!

9. Sarcasm is like electricity, half of India doesn’t get it!

no electricity

10. And the ultimate one:

Where liking a Facebook post and sending messages on WhatsApp gets you arrested, while raping does not!

– fwd: kenneth d’sa

Franklin Graham: Billy Graham is ‘Very Weak’ but mind is clear

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Billy GrahamUSA, January 17, 2015: Billy Graham is very weak as he’s 96 years old, but his mind is still clear and he talked a little about his preaching in Wisconsin after a recent football game between the Packers and the Cowboys, his son, Franklin Graham, said.

“He’s very weak,” Franklin Graham told NBC in an interview. “He’s 96 years of age so he doesn’t have a lot of stamina and he doesn’t carry on long conversations, but his mind is still clear and we’re thankful for that.”

After the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, “One of the nurses beside him, she said ‘Dr. Graham did you ever preach there’? He said, ‘oh yes’ and we talked a little bit about that,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

He said he is grateful that God has given him “this much health and that he’s still with us at 96 years of age.”

Last year around the same time, Graham said his father is “doing ok, just ok.”

Billy Graham was hospitalized after his 95th birthday celebration for observation and lung tests in November 2013, and has been very weak since then.

“My father is ready to go to Heaven and whenever that day comes, he’s ready,” Franklin Graham said last January. “He’s worked hard all of his life and faithful to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ his entire life. And so he’s ready to go home and I’m praying that the Lord will leave him a little longer. We need him.”

He said the family still needs Graham. “He’s a great father, been a great friend and just… I enjoy having lunch with him every Sunday. I have my own personal reason for wanting him to stay around a long time.

“He can be this way for many months but he can also get his strength back and that’s what I’m praying. It be God’s will that he can get his strength back because we still have some work for him to do,” Franklin Graham added.

– christian post

Delhi: crèche destroyed by fire in a Catholic church

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

delhi christians protestDelhi, January 05, 2015: The police closed the case. The clergyman blames arson because CCTV videos show something being poured on the crèche. For Christian leader, this is “a serious violation of the secular credentials of the Indian Constitution.”

For India’s Christians, 2015 began with a bleak note. Last Saturday, a fire destroyed a crèche in a New Delhi Catholic church in the early hours of the morning.

After investigating the case, police said an electrical short circuit caused the fire, and closed the case. However, for the local parish priest Fr Cyril Patrick, who was the first on the scene, the fire was deliberate, set to damage the church.

“I do not want to blame anyone in particular,” the priest said, “but CCTV videos show something being poured [on the Nativity Scene] from the top.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that what happened is “a serious violation of the secular credentials of the Indian Constitution.”

In addition to last year’s cases of re-conversion to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi or ‘return home’), the fire “portends hard times for the Christian minority, which already feels vulnerable by a nation-wide anti-conversion law proposed by the Janata Bharatiya Party (BJP)”.

The BJP, a Hindu ultra-nationalist party with close ties to Sangh Parivar radical groups (responsible for attacks and violence against minorities), now controls the central government.

– asianews

Christian man detained on “security grounds” for no crime committed

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

JailedUttar Pradesh, January 08, 2015: Arvind D’Souza was stopped by the police “for reasons of public order,” even though he had committed no crime. The incident occurred on 2 January in the district of Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr D’Souza, who is still in prison under preventive detention, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) told AsiaNews, ran afoul of a group of Hindu radicals in the village of Maulvikhurd.

The latter filed a complaint with police against the Christian man for “spreading Christianity” and “forced conversion of women and children through the gift of Bibles.”

The local police, as Superintendent of Police to Amethi Hira Lal admitted, “found no evidence that D’Souza used force in converting anyone.”

“However, since the fact could undermine public order, they took him into custody in accordance with Article 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and placed him under preventive detention for 14 days.”

“This is a serious violation of human rights,” said GCIC president Sajan George. It is part of “a trend that is spreading more and more in India.”

“In Madhya Pradesh, families, including small children, have been arrested for forced conversions under the state’s anti-Conversion law,” George explained.

Sadly, such legislation is being used “as a political tool to terrorise and persecute the Christian minority.”

– asianews

The Making of Mumbai by Benny Aguiar

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Synopsis
The Making of Mumbai

A history of the Metropolis and its Catholic Past
by Fr. Benny Aguiar

The Making of Mumbai“The Making of Mumbai” is a concise and succinctly well-written book by Msgr. Benny Aguiar. It encompasses Pre-Portuguese, Portuguese, the Maratha and the British period.

For six decades the Marathas whose capital was first Raigad, then Poona, ruled over the neighbouring islands of Salsette and Bassein till the British took them over from Raghoba by the treaty of Surat in Nov, 1775. Aurangzeb ruled from Delhi roughly over all of India, i.e., north of the Godavari, and Afghanistan,  while Shivaji the Maratha ruler was building a kingdom for the Marathas in Maharashtra.

For over a thousand years Bombay was an insignificant island off the Western coast of India  when places like Kalyan, Sopara and Thane were flourishing centres with their own kingdoms.

This book also brings out the Catholic past of Bombay.    In the 1700’s a conflict within the Portuguese rulers of Bombay caused a deep division in the Catholic community. This arose between Padroadists and Propagandists.  The book delves into the evolution of the Catholic community in Bombay. It explains when and where the first Churches were built or renovated, and how the transition from one period to another, Portuguese to English to Maratha, led to a decline and then to a revival and formation of a vibrant Catholic Community.

“The Making of Mumbai” makes an excellent coffee-table book enriching one with invaluable information about the past Mumbai when fashionable Colaba Causeway was only a sandy ridge, surfacing at low tide to enable access from Old Woman’s Island to the neighbouring island of Colio or Colaba. Pydhonie was a tidal creek where a weary traveller washed his feet and refreshed his animal before entering the main island.

Reay Road and Parel were stretches of low-lying salt water marshes dotted with toddy trees. There was such an abundance of game and food, that the crew of a ship landing in Bombay in 1529 called it the “Island of the Good Life”.

Since the book talks about Bombay, its history and growth, the Portuguese and British rule that has left behind religious, social, cultural and linguistic impact on the people one would say this is a must-read book for the citizen of Mumbai and for the students of History — a collector’s book for posterity.

According to Msgr. Benny Aguiar “The making of this book is the result of long research on a number of sources, and many have contributed to it”.

Africa: Muslims outraged by French publication ravage Christians

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Widespread protests about the depiction of the Prophet MuhammadAfrica, January 18, 2015: International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that churches, Christian business, and pastors’ homes across Niger have been burned and 20 people killed as Muslim protests against Charlie Hebdo’s second portrayal of the prophet Mohammed devolved into violent riots last night. Protests launched by outraged Muslims in former West African French colonies including Niger, Algeria and Senegal as well as in other Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan, have produced violent mobs that, at the time of this release, continue to roam the streets of several cities, causing Christians in these and other countries across the world to seek shelter for fear of violent reprisals against them for the French satirical magazine’s provocative publication.

On January 7, Cherif and Said Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris, France, wearing masks and armed with assault rifles. The brothers proceeded to kill 11 Charlie Hebdo staff members while screaming “God is great” and “We have avenged the prophet Mohammed” in Arabic. The brothers then fled back onto the streets of Paris, where they killed two police officers before hijacking a vehicle to escape the scene of the attack. Subsequent attacks connected to the massacre-a violent reprisal for Charlie Hebdo’s inflammatory portrayals of Muslims and the prophet Mohammed-have been carried out across the Île-de-France region of Paris in which radicalized Muslims connected to the massacre murdered five additional French citizens, including both civilians and law enforcement personnel.

According to the BBC, “At least two churches have been set on fire in the capital of Niger amid fresh protests against French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.” But, in an email to ICC, World Renew’s Niger Director wrote from the capital, Niamey, that “many churches have been burned, pastors’ homes destroyed.” The Director continued, “We are on very high alert as the chaotic mass moves through the city. Many local believers have sought shelter somewhere other than their homes.”

In an email to ICC, Christian missionaries based in Niamey, Niger, wrote that “all of [their] churches have been burned along with the pastor’s homes…almost every church [they] know or are associated with has been attacked.” The missionaries, who despite seeing smoke “around all sides of [their] house” remain in Niamey, continued, writing, “Jesus said ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ We are confident that this persecution will only grow the church and the Gospel in Niger.”

AFP has reported that as at least seven churches have been burned in Niger, clarifying that “the sites, which were primarily evangelical churches, were torched on the left bank of Niamey, several of them housed in small villas that bore no distinctive religious signs.” The report went on to state that rioters “were also headed for the right bank, which also contains numerous churches.” It’s been reported that in the heart of the city, Niger police have deployed tear gas against those gathered.

International monitors estimate as many as 20 Nigeriennes have been killed in the violence, the worst of which has targeted Christian and government property, including churches, police stations and government buildings in Zinder, Niamey, Maradi and Goure. In an email, World Renew’s Niger Director asked ICC to call on Christians in the West to “pray fervently that the authorities will be able to get the situation under control and that calm will return.”

Burnings of churches and Christian homes and businesses have become increasingly common as radically conservative Islamic teachings imported from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have infiltrated Niger’s mosques. The poorest country in the world, Niger has become a breeding ground for Islamists and jihadists, including Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau. A Nigeriene by birth, Shekau’s sermons espousing a global war against Christians are regularly played over the loud speakers of mosques across Niger, calling young Muslim men to join the jihadist’s cause both in Nigeria with Boko Haram, and in Niger.

Cameron Thomas, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa said, “Communities across the Islamic world, outraged by the satirical magazine’s depictions of Muslims and the prophet Mohammed, have formed into violent mobs and taken to burning churches and Christian homes and businesses. In response, Christians in Niger, Mali, Sudan and Somalia have fallen into states of panic and, in many cases, have fled their homes for shelter from possible attack in response to the publication’s decision to confront issues of Islamic extremism with cartoons.

Christians in Muslim-majority countries hostile to even the practice, let alone the spread, of Christianity face incredible hardship for their faith that is often made worse by seemingly unconnected actions in the Western world. Over the course of these riots, dozens of churches and Christian businesses and homes will burn for a cause unconnected to themselves. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost property and loved ones in the violence, with the hope that no more innocent lives will fall victim to the violence or destruction that was sparked last week on the streets of Paris and has now spilled over onto the streets of Niamey, more than 2,000 miles away.

– icc

More than 6 million attend largest Papal Mass in history

January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Pope Francis greets worshippersPhilippines, January 19, 2015: More than six million people in Manila have attended what is thought to be the largest Papal Mass in history, reports The Catholic Herald.

Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said Filipino authorities estimated between six and seven million attended the Mass in Rizal Park on the last full day of the Pope’s four-day visit to Asia’s largest Catholic nation.

“We are not able to count all these people, obviously, or to verify this, but in any case, we have seen so many people that we believe that it is possible,” Fr Lombardi said during a briefing, according to Reuters.

“If this is true, and we think it is, this is the largest event in the history of the popes.”

Celebrating the feast of the Santo Niño, or Holy Child, Francis described the Christ Child as “the protector of this great country.”

He said: “When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: St Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family.

“Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programmes contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.”

– cns

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