Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Goa Archdiocese Expresses Solidarity with Orissa Victims

The following is the approved English translation from the original Konkani, of the Circular Letter sent by Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao to all the Parish Priests of the Archdiocese:


To the Priests, Religious, Lay Faithful and People of good will

(Approved English version of the Circular Letter No. CP-Cir/202/2008
written originally in Konkani language)

Theme: Violence in the State of Orissa

Dearly Beloved,

The happenings taking place these days in Orissa cannot but cause concern. VHP leader, Swami Lakshananda Saraswati and four of his companions were shot at and murdered in their Ashram and, since then, Christian individuals and institutions are being targeted and destroyed.

The Catholic Bishops in India have expressed their sorrow and registered their protest over the killing of the Swami and the ensuing spate of violence and asked for prayers for peace; together with them, we too expressed our feelings over these events: you will have read this on the newspapers.

However, there is no guarantee that these chilling events will end soon and there do not seem to be signs that this communally disturbed atmosphere will be cleared easily. Some organizations in Orissa are laying the blame on the Christian Community, thus fanning the anti-Christian communal flame across the State. This has resulted, among other acts of violence, in the tragic burning to death of a woman working at an orphanage and of a paralytic man in his own house. Two priests and a few religious women were also seriously injured. Some priests and nuns have gone into hiding.

We cannot remain indifferent in such a situation. We need to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are going through untold suffering. It is with this in mind that we have planned to take the following initiatives in our Archdiocese:

All Catholic educational institutions in the Archdiocese shall remain closed on August 29.

September 7, Sunday, will be observed as a day of prayer and fasting.

A signature campaign will be organized to express our condemnation.

Protest Rallies will be held in a couple of places in Goa. More details will follow.

In view of the situation in Orissa, we appeal urgently to our Priests, Religious men and women, Christian faithful and all women and men of good will to express their solidarity with those who are suffering so grievously and, through their prayers for peace and communal harmony, to help these programmes meet with success.

Archbishop's House, Panjim, Goa, August 27, 2008.

+ Filipe Neri Ferrão
Archbishop of Goa and Daman

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