Toronto's Indians appalled by attacks

  • November 7, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - The picture of a dead child’s charred remains was just one of many photos that shocked Indian-born priest Fr. Jose Thaipparampil about the explosion of violence which has been called the worst anti-Christian attacks in the 61 years since India’s independence.

Indian Catholics in Toronto are increasingly concerned about the persecution of Christians, says the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Mission parish. So much so that they are turning prayer into action. Thaipparampil’s parish raised $1,500 for the diocese of Orissa to help the victims. At the parish’s Nov. 2 Mass, they also remembered Fr. Bernard Digal, one of the first Christians to be attacked by a Hindu extremist mob in August who died from his injuries at the end of October.
The mission parish serves the Malayalee community whose members are originally from Kerala in southern India, a predominantly Christian area.

The photos, Thaipparampil said, are part of e-mail updates he and members of his parish have been receiving and forwarding to others about anti-Christian violence which has engulfed Orissa, in eastern India, since Aug. 25.

Alphonsa David, a catechism teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle, said her family has been affected by the crisis, even though not originally from the troubled region.

“We feel we are called to support the missionaries and pray that this will increase our faith,” David said.

Rappai Nedumpara, 78, said he worries about some relatives who live near an area which was hit by the violence. Nedumpara said the canonization of Sr. Alphonsa, the first Indian-born female saint, on Oct. 12 has been a spiritual boost to the Christian minority in India.

Anti-Christian violence has caught international attention with shocking news of reported tortures and murders of Catholic priests, the rape of a Catholic nun and images of burned homes, churches and bodies. The murder of a Hindu priest sparked the attacks on Christians by Hindu extremists. A Maoist leader had claimed responsibility for the murder. But Hindu groups have accused Christians of carrying out the attack.

According to Human Rights Watch, Christians are being used as “scapegoats.”

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