Thursday, September 18, 2008
Catholics of Today
by Pamela Baker
When one thinks of India, what first comes to mind is the beauty of their culture, and the peacefulness that one achieves through their many forms of meditation. What I am about to write about one would hardly call peace or beauty. It is the persecution of Catholics that is currently going on right now in India. India has long been known as a Hindu country, primarily in the Northeast part of India near Tibet, which is largely Hindu. For centuries, Catholic Missionaries have gone to the region to try to convert some of those interested in the Catholic religion. Many wars have been fought to prevent this, but as time passes, the people have become more tolerant towards other religions.
Two weeks ago, Hindu terrorists began a campaign to destroy all traces of the Catholic religion in that region of India. Catholic Churches and homes of many Catholics are being burned to the ground (see photos). Many priests are being killed, as well as many Catholics who continue to practice their religion.
Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire. Fr. Chellen had this horrifying experience to share with Catholic News Service: “A gang of about 50 armed Hindus beat us up and led us like culprits along the road in what they referred to as the ‘Crucifixion Parade’ and led us to the burned pastoral center. “They then poured kerosene on my head, and one held a matchbox in his hands to light the fire. But thanks to divine providence, in the end, they did not do that. Otherwise, I would not have been there to tell this horror,' the 55-year-old priest, director of the pastoral center at Konjamendi in the Indian state of Orissa, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from his hospital bed Aug. 28.When the Hindu mob of 50 people broke into the pastoral center around noon that day. Father Chellen said he fled through the backyard with another priest and a nun. The terrorists then grabbed the 20 yr old noviate (one training to become a nun) who was teaching, and proceeded to drag from her school, to the center of the town, then stripped and raped her in front of everyone, and set her ablaze while alive (see the photo). Young children are being burnt while still living in their homes.
As of this week, the burning of Catholic Churches has spread to the South of India. Although India is only about 2% Catholic; most of them have made their homes in the Southern States, where I also have many friends who live there. I worry and pray for their safety, as these terrorists continue their journey of destruction. I asked my friend who is from South India, and is presently living here why the Government of India is allowing this. His response was “they turn their heads, as the Government is primarily made up of Hindu’s”.