The Portal June 2018 - Page 11

THE P RTAL June 2018 Page 11 Aid to the Church in Need Christianity will grow and flourish in India amidst persecution I ndia’s extremists are, according to reports received by Aid to the Church in Need, pushing ahead with their political agenda inspired by the notion that the country is a Hindu country for the Hindu- majority community. Concerns have grown since the rise to power by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As a result, the BJP are increasingly targeting minorities including Christians, as they are seen as a threat to the national identity. But, despite rampant discrimination and a rising number of incidents revealing religiously motivated violence, the Church is growing with support from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. Deteriorating relations between Hindu extremists and Christians are evident in the increasing number of attacks, from the 365 recorded attacks against Christians in 2016 increasing to 740 instances of violence last year. Sources noted that both the regularity and severity of violent attacks have increased with each passing year, especially in the north of the country. Unfortunately, it is not just that extremist groups across a large number of states are targeting Christians and other minority religious groups but that the authorities have failed to act to protect those injured. There are also occasions when the State is accused of conspiring with the extremists. In Madhya Pradesh Province, militants have disrupted classes in Catholic schools; police were accused of failing to intervene while extremists assaulted priests and seminarians singing Christmas carols – only to then arrest the carollers. villages. The bishop said: “It is encouraging to see that the Christians, though suffering persecution at times, are ready to die for their faith.” He added: “They know that Christianity will grow and flourish in this place amidst persecution… The Church in Odisha embraces the Cross but is not annihilated.” With many homes in the region without a Holy Bible, Aid to the Church in Describing the intense violence by Hindutva Need is helping the Church by printing 50,000 copies extremists, Bishop Kishore Kumar Kujur of Rourkela of the New Testament in the local language of Odiya. Its recalled a series of violent attacks on Christians in last reprint sold out rapidly in 2004 and indications are Odisha (then Orissa) a decade ago. He said: “During that this batch will be welcomed by families in India. the violence, houses were set ablaze with fire. People Also, there is a great need for priests. In India’s lost all their belongings and they lost their Bibles – some were killed because they were found with the poorest diocese of Buxar there are only 15 diocesan Bible.” During the crisis more than 4,500 houses and priests ministering to about 25,000 Catholics. But, 250 churches were destroyed in arson attacks and another positive indication of the Church’s growth about 70 deaths officially noted – but some reports across India is to be seen in up to 1,000 priests being suggest that the loss of life could be as high as 500 ordained every year and today there are more than 15,000 seminarians hoping to celebrate the Sacraments people. and serve their parishioners. In the face of this violence, the bishop said that Aid to the Church in Need - www.acnuk.org reading of the Word of God sustained the faithful, contact: acn@acnuk.org or call 020 8642 8668 including when the priests were not able to visit