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October 27, 2021 - Archbishop Cornelio's appeal comes as persecution spreads across the country amid political silence. A Catholic Church leader has sought the intervention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain violence against minorities, especially Christians, amid reports of rising persecution. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, based in the capital of central India's Madhya Pradesh state, wrote a letter to Modi asking him “to take effective steps to contain rising violence against Christians.” Christians make up 2.3 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population, who are mostly Hindus. Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supports the hardline idea of making India a nation of Hindu dominance, which Christian leaders say results in Hindu activists violently opposing religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims. The archbishop’s Oct. 26 letter came five days after civil rights groups released a fact-finding report on persecution that documented rising violence against Christians, especially from right-wing Hindu groups. Christians faced persecution in 21 of 28 Indian states, most of them ruled by Modi’s BJP party, the report said. Now even our prayer meetings are termed as religious conversion ceremonies and false cases are registered against the faithful “Very recently certain individuals and groups have stepped up a hate campaign against minority groups,

Satna, Oct 25, 2021: Rightwing Hindu activists on October 25 served a 15-day ultimatum to Catholic school in the central Indian state Madhya Pradesh state to install in the campus an idol of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. A 30-member delegation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and Bajrang Dal (Party of the stout and strong) met Father Augustine Chittuparambil, manager of Christ Jyoti Senior Secondary School in Satna district headquarters, to make the demand through a memorandum. They gave the priest 15 days to comply with their demand or face protests in front of the school. “The Hindu activists came to our school and wanted us to install an idol of goddess Saraswati in the campus,” Father Chittuparambil told Matters India. The radicals forced the priest to give in writing that he had received their memorandum that he accepted at the school’s main gate. The Hindu activists left the place with a warning to come back in case the school failed to comply with their demand. “They claim that the school was built at a place where the idol of goddess Saraswati had existed,” the priest explained. He pointed out that the school was built 49 years ago and no one had made such

The new probe comes after a court exonerated Cardinal George Alencherry of several charges linked to land deals A federal agency has initiated a probe against Cardinal George Alencherry, head of India’s Syro-Malabar Church, on money-laundering charges which a church official said were part of a conspiracy to tarnish the church and its leader. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which probes financial crimes, has started investigating the dealings of Cardinal Alencherry in connection with the sale of church land that reportedly resulted in a financial loss to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. “The ED move to probe the cardinal is no doubt an attempt to target him and tarnish the image of the church,” said Father Abraham Kavilpurayidam, the spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church. The cardinal is the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church based in Kerala state that has some five million members in India and abroad. Father Kavilpurayidam told UCA News on Oct. 25 that the latest move against the cardinal comes after a local court exonerated him and a special police team in Kerala found no basis to the allegations. “A special team of Kerala police’s Crime Branch probed all the allegations thoroughly and gave him a clean chit”

ARCHBISHOP MACHADO TELLS KARNATAKA GOVERNMENT CHIEF THAT THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY WILL OPPOSE IT TOOTH AND NAIL Archbishop Peter Machado, president of the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops' Council, has said that the Christian community will not rest until a draconian order for surveying missionaries in the southern Indian state is withdrawn. In a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the prelate appealed to him to call off the survey ordered by the state’s department for backward classes and minorities' welfare. He further urged the chief minister to also put off the Karnataka government’s plan to enact an anti-conversion law as it would trigger more violence and harassment of the beleaguered Christian community. "We continue to register our firm opposition to the proposed bill and oppose it tooth and nail," he added. The decision to conduct a survey was taken on Oct. 13 after ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Goolihatti Shekhar alleged that his mother had converted to Christianity and he was being threatened by missionaries. Church leaders in Karnataka have denied his charges while also expressing the fear that the “false bogey” of conversion could lead to churches being attacked and vandalized. Archbishop Machado reminded Bommai of their meeting on Sept. 22 where a delegation

Human rights groups which monitor atrocities against Christians in India have documented the violence by Hindutva groups from all states and released a fact-finding report on Thursday. New Delhi: On October 3, more than 200 unidentified men and women, allegedly belonging to local right-wing groups, vandalised a church in Roorkee, Uttarakhand, and attacked several people, including women, assembled there for prayers on a Sunday. No action has been taken in the case yet, despite assurances. The spate of such incidents of hate crimes, mob violence against Christians only seems to be increasingly compounded by rallies and slogans against the community based on triggering fears and anxieties over ‘religious conversions’. Human rights groups which monitor atrocities against Christians in India have documented the violence by Hindutva groups from all states and released a fact-finding report titled ‘Christians under attack in India’. The report highlights that over 300 such instances have been reported from across 21 states, particularly North India, in nine months of this year. The report was released in Delhi on October 21, Thursday, by the Association of Protection Civil Rights, United Christian Forum and United against Hate at a press conference. Speaking at the press conference, A.C. Michael, the former member of Delhi Minorities

A pastor of a Protestant church was held by the police after a mob of pro-Hindu activists barged into a church in the Indian state of Karnataka and began singing bhajans or Hindu devotionals as a protest against alleged forced religious conversions. A video clip of the incident reported from Hubbali town on Oct. 17 showed activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, forcibly entering Bairidevarkoppa Church and singing devotionals. Pastor Somu Avaradhi and some of his associates reportedly sustained minor injuries in a scuffle but Arvind Bellad, a local member of the legislative assembly belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), blocked a highway along with his supporters demanding their arrest. Local media reported both the groups claiming they were attacked. The pro-Hindu activists in their complaint charged the pastor with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.” Pastor Avaradhi was held by the police but let free after questioning. The church's authorities too filed a complaint on Oct. 18. City Police Commissioner Labu Ram said investigations were underway. Brother Simon of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Dharwad told UCA News that he and his community had full faith in the law

HIS COMMENTS DREW CRITICISM FROM THE FORMER CHIEF MINISTER AND CONGRESS LEADER SIDDARAMAIAH AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS IN THE STATE. New Delhi: Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has stoked a controversy with his statements that appeared to justify incidents of moral policing in the state. According to the Indian Express, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister seemed to perceive nothing wrong with right-wing vigilantes impinging on the privacy of people to prevent inter-community relationships. “This is a sensitive issue. We all have responsibilities in a society. There are multiple sentiments in society and people will need to function in a manner that does not hurt sentiments. When sentiments are hurt, there will normally be action and reaction,” Bommai said. “Today, we cannot live without morality. Peace in society and relationships are dependent on morality. When there is no morality there will be action and reaction. There is a responsibility on everyone and not just one section of society,” the Karnataka chief minister said. His comments drew criticism from the former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah and progressive groups in the state. “Is your loyalty towards our Constitution or towards Manu Smriti?” Siddaramaiah asked in a series of social media posts addressed to the Karnataka chief

THE BJP LEGISLATOR IN THE CENTRAL STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH ASKED HINDUS TO KEEP AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS. RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS IN INDIA HAVE CONDEMNED A CALL BY A RULING BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP) LAWMAKER URGING HINDUS TO STAY AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS TO SAFEGUARD THEIR RELIGION, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS. Rameshwar Sharma, a member of the legislative assembly in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, told a crowd at a recent Dusshera festival celebration in the capital city of Bhopal “to stay away from Father and chadar [ceremonial cloth offered at Muslim shrines],” warning that they “would spoil you.” He further said Hindus should also keep away from Sufi shrines and spiritual guides, calling them obstacles in their path to Hindu temples. A video of Sharma’s speech went viral on social media on Oct. 17, inviting criticism from the opposition Congress party, which asked the BJP to clarify if it agreed with the lawmaker’s public pronouncement dividing people on the basis of their religious beliefs. “It is unfortunate that a lawmaker is dividing people calling from a public platform to boycott Christians and Muslims,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The prelate told UCA News that such insensitive remarks “hurt the sentiments

Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged that the church authorities were conducting forced religious conversions - a charge that has been denied. They sang Bhajans at the makeshift church in Hubbali.Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad forced their way into a makeshift church in Karnataka's Hubbali on Sunday morning and sang bhajans or Hindu prayer songs as a protest, alleging forced religious conversions there. A video of the incident showed dozens of women and men sitting inside the Bairidevarkoppa Church in Hubbali around 11 am singing bhajans with folded hands over their heads. Later, the local BJP MLA Arvind Bellad blocked a highway demanding the arrest of pastor Somu Avaradhi. Both sides - members of the church and the activists of the right-wing organisations - alleged that they were attacked over the incident. Pastor Somu and some of his associates were admitted to hospital with minor injuries. The pastor and others have been named in a complaint under the law for protection of Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as one against "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings". He has been arrested and three others were let off after questioning. The church authorities said they filed

The Council also expressed its reservations over a survey of official and non-official Christian missionaries The Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops Council has opposed the state government's proposal to introduce an 'Anti-Conversion Bill', cautioning that the move could precipitate "uncontrolled communal conflagrations" in the state. "Since independence, there has been hardly any increase in the number of Christians and it (the Bill) is all made out to suit the political agenda of some political parties," the Council said in a memorandum to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The Council also expressed its reservations over a survey of official and non-official Christian missionaries ordered by the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department. "If a survey is to be conducted, we demand that all communities be surveyed as well," the Council said. The memorandum comes close on the heels of announcements made by Bommai and other ministers on the state government mulling an anti-conversion Bill after Hosadurga MLA Goolihatti Shekar's allegations about religious conversions. Recently, the legislature panel asked for a survey on churches in the state and an order to this effect was issued. "If the bill is passed in the Assembly and translated into a law, we fear that it will give way for large-scale uncontrolled communal

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