20 National News

posted Feb 15, 2018, 11:32 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 15, 2018, 11:33 PM ]

Cardinal Gracias CBCI President

India's Catholic bishops' conference elected Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai as its new President on Feb. 8 at its biannual gathering in the southern city of Bangalore.

Most Rev. Joshua Mar Ignathios, Bishop of the Eparchy of Mavelikara, was elected First Vice-President; Most Rev. George Njaralakatt, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tellicherry, was elected the Second Vice-President. Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX continues his three-year term as the Secretary General of CBCI.

Cardinal Gracias (74) takes over from Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, who led the CBCI for two terms, over the last four years. Cardinal Gracias takes over at a politically sensitive time, as the country faces national elections next year and provincial elections in several key states this year, amid fears of hard-line Hindu groups gaining strength.


Bishops pray for seven Christians jailed in Odisha

All the bishops of India, including the four cardinals, jointly said a prayer for the release of seven Christians, jailed for nine years convicted of murdering Hindu Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati that triggered the wave of anti-Christian riots in Kandhamal.

The bishops recited the prayer Feb. 8 during the 33rd biennial assembly of the CBCI in Bangalore city.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the outgoing CBCI President, led the 'Prayer for Kandhamal's Seven Innocents', composed by journalist Anto Akkara, who campaigns for the release of the seven, maintaining that they were fraudulently jailed.


Kerala Christian leaders to campaign in Meghalaya

Christian leaders from Kerala are all set to campaign in Meghalaya which goes to polls on February 27 to elect a 60-member state Assembly.

The leaders from Kerala who have been asked to begin campaigning in the Christian-majority northeastern state include former two-time Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, senior legislator K.C. Joseph, Lok Sabha member Anto Antony and MLA Dominic Presentation. At present, the Meghalaya Assembly has 29 Congress legislators. 


Longris rejoice over new church

One of the small sub-tribes of Arunachal Pradesh rejoiced on February 8, when their bishop blessed the first Catholic church in their village.

"A building does not make a church, but it is the people who make the church," said Bishop George Palliparampil of Miao while blessing the church at Old Khamdu village of Changlang District in the eastern part of the state.

The church caters to the Longris, a sub-tribe of the Tangsas. The Salesian prelate reminded the gathering that a community makes a church only when it lives the values of Christ. "Let us make a strong transformation as we migrate from a humble bamboo structure to a strong concrete Church," he said and stressed the need for spiritual transformation.


New Delhi
Indian govt admits rise in religion-based hate crimes

The Indian government has presented detailed data in Parliament showing a surge in religion-based violence, since it came to power four years ago.

The statistics, revealed on Feb. 6, confirm a long-standing allegation by rights groups that the situation is worsening.

In 2017, 111 persons were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 cases of sectarian violence, the highest figure in the past three years. In 2016, 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents of religion-based violence.

Parliament was told that the highest number of sectarian incidents was reported in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh: 195 incidents of religion-based violence in 2017, claiming 44 lives and injuring 452 people.

Rights groups and civil society have been accusing the BJP of fanning the flames of intolerance. They also allege the administration is supportive of Hindu groups' violence against religious minorities like Muslims and Christians in its desire to make India a Hindu-only state.

Some BJP leaders' active promotion of Hindu nationalism resulted in the spike in communal violence in India since it came to power in 2014, says a report by the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. The failure by authorities to investigate or prevent such attacks, often led by extremist groups acting as vigilantes for cow protection and moral policing, have "created a climate of impunity" and might lead to continued attacks, says the report.


India's noted nun painter dies

Renowned Christian artist, Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate Sr Claire (82) died on February 11 in Bengaluru.

Sr Claire had created more than 2,000 Christian paintings using water colour, enamel paints, poster colors and colour pens. She also drew more than 1,000 Christian and Easter greeting cards. The main focus of her paintings was Christian imagery rooted in Indian soil. She drew inspiration to paint from the day-to-day life of the common people in India. She also received inspiration from silence and solitude, in prayer and meditation and when she looked at the beauty of Creation.