Anti-nuke protesters suspend agitation to clean vandalized church

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Protesters in water near Koodankulam nuclear power plant

Protesters in water near Koodankulam nuclear power plant

Tamil Nadu, September 17, 2012: The anti-nuke protesters brought water from the sea and cleaned the church in Idinthakarai village in Tamil Nadu that was desecrated by the police.

The protesters suspended their agitation against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant for a day on Saturday.

They had launched a water protest by jumping into the sea, just 500 metres away from the nuclear facility, and forming a human chain to protest fueling of uranium in one of the reactors of the plant.

The protesters claimed that the police entered the St. Lourdes Church in the village and desecrated the church and the statue of Mother Mary.

After the cleaning was completed, special adoration was conducted in the church,

The protesters refused to accept the body of A. Sahayaraj, who died Friday after sustaining head injury during the ‘jal satyagraha’ (non-violent water protest).

Even as the police filed a case of suspicious death, the protesters alleged that the victim, scared by an Indian Coast Guard aircraft flying at low-level, fell on a granite boulder and died.

They demanded registration of a murder case against the pilot.

“We’ll not accept the body till a murder case is registered against the pilot,” they said.

– thehindu

Cardinal Gracias: The desecration of Our Lady of Lourdes, a vulgar and shameful act

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Desecration of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Idinthakarai, Tamil Nadu

Desecration of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Idinthakarai, Tamil Nadu

Mumbai, September 12, 2012: The president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police in Idinthakarai which exploded after (peaceful) antinuclear protests in Kudankulam. Police agents destroyed two statues of the Madonna and have urinated on them.

The desecration of a church is a “vulgar, thoughtless and shameful” act “even more unacceptable” when carried out by law enforcement officers, says Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).  The cardinal condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police officers in the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the village of Idinthakarai (Tamil Nadu), in violence that erupted during the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

Two days ago, a new peaceful demonstration to stop the construction of the plant turned into a nightmare for the local community. Police opened fire on the crowds to disperse them, killing a fisherman. A 6 year old girl lost her life, crushed by the fleeing crowd. Then, some agents raided Our Lady of Lourdes Church destroying two statues of the Virgin Mary, and urinating on them (see 11/09/2012, ” Police violence against antinuclear protesters: two dead and a church profaned “).

“The police – says Card. Gracias – has the duty to protect churches and places of worship, because all must be respected. Nothing can justify such an atrocious act.  It is a mark on the secular credentials of India, which challenge our national conscience. ”

The local community – mostly Catholic and devoted to fishing – have been opposed to the construction of Kudankulam plant for several years. According to the people, it is not safe, and will have an impact on the environment dangerous for the lives and livelihoods of the inhabitants. For the authorities of Tamil Nadu, however, the system is safe and is the best way to make up for the energy shortage in the area. In addition, according to the government “hidden” foreign and Catholic NGOs are behind the protests, funding anti-nuclear activists. For this reason, last February the state froze the bank accounts of four NGOs, including the two headed by Msgr. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticurin (epicenter of the protest, ed.)

The President of the CBCI points out: “The Catholic Church has always expressed solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need all over India. We reaffirm our commitment to ensure economic and social justice for our fellow citizens.” According to the cardinal, “true development safeguards the dignity of the human being. It is our duty to accept responsibility for each other, and the growth of India as a whole. At the same time, we must create conditions of justice and peace in which individuals and communities can truly flourish”.

– asianews

Practical ecumenism guides parishes

January 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Church, India, newsletter-india, Tamil Nadu

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ShrineTamil Nadu, January 10, 2012: For more than two years, a Catholic parish has been operating from a Protestant parish campus that some Church leaders hail as an example of practical ecumenism.

“It is great ecumenism in practice,” said Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Pius of Madras-Mylapore about the cooperation between the two parishes in Chennai, capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Since October 2009, Sacred Heart of Jesus Shrine has been operating from the campus of St John the Baptist parish church belonging to the Church of South India (CSI).

Bishop Pius said such an arrangement is “unique and a good example for others.”

The parish, built in 1913, is the first shrine in India dedicated to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The parish decided to shift to the Protestant campus to build a new shrine with modern facilities, the shrine’s administrator Father Peter Thumma said. The old one, he explained, was too inadequate to “suit the growing demand of devotees.”

The priest said they plan to complete the new shrine by the end of 2012 at a cost of 100 million rupees (US$1.92 million).

Father Joseph Manickam, the shrine’s rector, said that Catholic parish officials requested permission from the CSI leaders to use their campus until the shrine is built.

The Protestant bishop and his laity council agreed. “Such a gesture was unique. Even though goodwill exists among churches, sharing of facilities on a long-term basis is very uncommon,” Father Manickam said.

Officials of both Churches signed an agreement that they renew every year for eleven months.

Revered Magimaidoss Enos, the CSI pastor, said, “We have shared the facility in an ecumenical spirit” because his people “understand” the situation.

Even earlier, the Catholics and the Protestants used to hold joint Palm Sunday processions, he added.

– ucan

Cases against anti-nuke church officials

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Cases against anti-nuke church officialsTamil Nadu, November 16, 2011: Police have charged a bishop and four parish priests with aiding and supporting a protest against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin diocese said yesterday that he and the priests along with some social activists have also been charged with illegal assembly and preventing government officials from carrying out official work at the construction site in Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district of the state.

The plant is scheduled to commence operation next month.

“We are aware of the charge sheets and will face the charges legally,” Bishop Ambroise said yesterday.

He said that the case is a tactic to create fear among protestors.

“We are undeterred by the charges filed by the local police and the struggle will go on,” he added.

For the last two months, protestors, mainly Catholic fishermen, have been agitating against the newly built US$3 billion nuclear power plant, built with Russian technology in Koodankulam.

Xavier Fernando, a lay leader, said that since the protest began on September 11, more than 8,000 people have been charged by police for protesting against the nuclear plant.

Bishop Ambroise said, “We were objecting to the plant from the beginning but after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, people have also understood the problems with nuclear energy and are protesting against the plant.”

He clarified that the anti-nuclear agitation was a people’s movement and not a church-led movement.

The prelate said he also suspected that police action was taken because of Hindu right-wing groups who are against the protest.

– ucan