2013-02-11 16:52:44

Cardinal Filoni releases book on India’s Kandhamal martyrs

February 11, 2013 - A highlight of the celebrations of 25 years of the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI) at the Marian shrine of Vailankanni in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state on Sunday, was the release of a book honouring Christians who suffered or died in the 2008 anti-Christian violence in eastern India’s Odisha state. The book ‘Early Christians of 21st century – stories of incredible Christian witness from Kandhamal jungles’, authored by journalist Anto Akkara, was released by papal delegate, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples. Cardinal Filoni is Pope Benedict XVI special envoy to the silver jubilee of the CCBI, the Latin-rite bishops’ body of India, and the golden jubilee of the Vailankanni shrine. The stories of Christian faith amid the brutal violence in Odisha, had their epicenter in Kandhamal District. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi described the book as prophetic that “will help our people grow in faith.” He commended Akkara for taking his great pains to register and record the incredible witness and the suffering of Kandhamal Christians. At the release of the book were present Apostolic nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and more than 120 bishops from across India. Realeasing the book, Cardinal Filoni said, “when Jesus bid farewell to his disciples, he did not say ‘you will have a good time’. Rather, he said that ‘you will have hard times and you will be sad. But your sorrow will turn into joy. The story of martyrs is continuing to inspire us, ” he said. The 276-page book is a collection of over 100 stories of witness to the Christian faith amid brutal persecution of Christians in Kandhamal. The book that also provides an in-depth analysis of the lawlessness in Kandhamal, has been published by Veritas India Books based in Bangalore. Akkara had earlier penned two books on Kandhamal violence- ‘Kandhamal – a blot on Indian Secularism’ and later ‘Shining Faith in Kandhamal.’

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