Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sisters arrested for...evangelization?

Yes, that is what appears to have happened to four Missionaries of Charity when they went to visit patients in a hospital in Tirupati, India--something they've been doing for decades.

But on the evening of June 25, an estimated crowd of 300 Hindus followed the sisters on their pastoral visit. Police from the area later came and took the sisters, members of the order founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, to a nearby jail where they were detained for a few hours.

Actually, actions like this seem to becoming more common in India where religious tensions seem to be increasing.

They have caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI and the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, who have both spoken out publicly against the persecution of Christians on the subcontinent.

However, their words seem to have fallen on deaf ears in the Indian government, which reacted by essentially taking the line of the Chinese government regarding religious freedom, that Church officials shouldn't be meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state.

Read this article to learn more about the incident in Tirupati.

Excerpt:

G. Alfred, executive secretary of Andhra Pradesh Christian Federation, told the press conference that the incident was part of increasing harassment of Christians by fanatic Hindu groups.

Alfred later told UCA News that activists of Hindu Dharma Parirakshana Samithi (forum for protecting the Hindu religion) engineered the crowd at the hospital. He said some of them verbally abused the nuns and even threatened to make the nuns wear saffron clothes like Hindu religious personnel do.

The Christian federation demanded that the government probe the incident and act against those who took the nuns to the police station. It also said Christian groups "cannot be mute spectators" to such abuses and threatened to launch a statewide stir if the government failed to act.

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