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Bombay (Agenzia Fides) – Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), wants the Church in India to initiate a process to declare as “martyrs of Kandhamal” those killed during an anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, Odisha, eastern India in 2008 which claimed more than 90 lives and rendered more than 56 thousand faithful homeless, in an authentic process of “Christian ethnic cleansing” by the district. In an interview with Agenzia Fides, the Cardinal said: “I have spoken to the Prefect of the Pontifical Congregation of the Causes of Martyrs in Rome. I am willing to speak personally about Kandhamal violence and its martyrs to Pope Francis”.
The Cardinal said he has already requested the head of the Church in Odisha, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack Bhubaneswar, to initiate the process: “The Church is sensitive to modern day martyrs. The roles of the witnesses of the martyrs are quite important. It is a tedious work and needs proper and timely documentation”, he said in the interview with Fides.
The Cardinal had met Kanak Rekha Nayak, wife of Parikhit Nayak, one of the victims of last November.
On that occasion, the Cardinal urged the Indian Church to take up the Kandhamal martyrs’ cause.
The Bishops of Orissa may request to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India to address the Kandhamal martyrs’ cause and to take care of the organization of the diocesan phase of the process.
The Indian Bishops’ Conference will discuss the issue during its assembly next March. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides 04/01/2016)