Hatred towards Christians
Last year over 100 Christians were murdered in the state of Orissa in India. They were burnt alive; they were raped, killed with axes and stoned, too. Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who visited Poland on the occasion of the First Day of Prayer with the Persecuted Church, spoke about those brutal murders. The Indian guest pointed to two biggest attacks against Christians in the recent years. The first one lasted a few days and began on the night of 24 December 2007. Some armed gangs of the communist party destroyed the Christmas decorations in the streets. Christians were not allowed to celebrate Christmas. The second attack began on 23 August 2008. ‘It lasted nine months and was very carefully planned and realised. It was directed mainly against the leaders of the Church. Then 50,000 people were resettled and 5,000 houses were burnt and plundered. Moreover, 30 various community buildings were destroyed; these included schools, shelters’, Archbishop Cheenath said. It is estimated that altogether 100 people were killed, out of whom only 75 were identified. Nowadays in India the campaign of hatred has continued. It aims at convincing the lowest strata of the society that Christians pose a threat towards the state over which they can even take control. People are also told that, for instance, Christians will force them to eat pork. Archbishop Cheenath informed that 82 % of the Indian population were followers of Hinduism. 10-15 % of them are members of the most radical parties that persecute Christians and exhort people to hate them. However, basically the Hindus are tolerant. ‘Many of them oppose these persecutions in their hearts although they do not say that aloud. Some are frightened and forced to take part in the persecutions. They are told that if they do not attack they will be attacked themselves’, the archbishop said. Naturally, India is not the only country where Christians are persecuted. Christians are endangered to a smaller or bigger extent in 75 countries. For example, in Eritrea the security services could imprison 10,000 Christians within a week. Nobody is interested in them and they can be raped, tortured, beaten and finally killed with impunity. The situation is dramatic in North Korea, northern Nigeria, Sudan where people are still crucified, in Iraq, Sri Lanka and Burma. The Catholic Church in Poland is not indifferent towards these events. On 8 November 2009 we celebrated the Day of Prayer with the Persecuted Church. And the Board of the Polish Bishops’ Conference issued an appeal to show solidarity with Christians persecuted all over the world. ‘As the Church that experienced persecutions in the past centuries, the symbol of which being the martyrdom of the Servant of God Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, we have the special obligation to show solidarity with those who cannot confess their faith freely and participate in the common good of the society to which they belong’, the bishops wrote.