Locals say Kandhamal Pastor was Murdered/Benedict XVI to Beatify John Paul II

Joseph Dais

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Locals say Kandhamal Pastor was Murdered

The mysterious death of a Protestant pastor in Kandhamal, Orissa, has sent shockwaves through the Christian community in the area, the epicenter of riots in 2008, with most believing the man was murdered. The bloody body of Reverend Saul Pradhan, 45, was found near a pond in Pakala village on 11 January, 2011. His family believes he was murdered as part of a hate campaign against Christians, but the local police say the man died in the severe cold wave sweeping the state. The victim’s elder brother Dushashan said the body showed signs of struggle, with “blood oozing from mouth, hands and legs twisted and pants torn.” A post mortem examination has been performed but the results have not been released.

“We thought the violence was over and we could start a new life,” the pastor’s widow, Nimata, said. She said two people from a nearby village had taken her husband out for a talk on the evening of Jan. 11. “My husband told me he would be back soon. But when he did not return until morning, we apprehended something was amiss,” she said. She claims that the two men who had taken the pastor, Marda Pradhan (not related) and Baiju Mallick, were involved in arson and looting during the 2008 anti-Christian violence. The family forced Marda Pradhan to join their search. “He took us in one direction but ran away after some time. We looked around and saw my husband’s body near the pond,” she said.

When the relatives went to file a case, the local police officer scolded them for suspecting murder. “He told us my brother had died of cold,” Dushashan said. But Nimata says her husband was killed because he was trying to reconcile Hindus and Christians in the village. She also said in his efforts to bring peace the pastor had tried to bring reconciliation even with those who had torched houses in the village. “We never knew they were nursing a grudge,” she said. Father Manoj Kumar Nayak, a priest of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese who visited the village yesterday, warned that Kandhamal could see more violence if the district administration failed to check the hate campaign. The priest, who is engaged in rehabilitation of the victims, said that police claims that the pastor was a victim of the weather set a “very dangerous” trend.

Bipra Charan Nayak, convener of an association for the Kandhamal survivors, said he believed the man was killed and the death “reflects the deep-seated hatred toward Christians in the area.” The Hindu radicals now implement “a systematic plan to eliminate Christian leaders and label such deaths as stray incidents.” A. Harish said that recurrence of violence is “quite alarming” and wants the administration to protect Church leaders. Kandhamal was the epicenter of an unprecedented violence against Christians that killed more than 90 people and displaced around 50,000 others.

North East Rape Victim’s Life Under Threat

A software engineer, working in a BPO, a victim of alleged rape by a friend who promised to marry, has been under life threat for lodging complaint. She was attacked by two men at Motibagh on January 12. Injured severely, fractured on left hand and backbone injured. The incident came to light when the 26-year-old woman, Manju (name changed) originally from Assam, filed a complaint with police against her friend, Shivalik Ghosh  whom she met through matrimonial website. She alleged that Shivalik Ghosh seduced her to his home at Gurgaon, intoxicated and raped her. A rape case has been registered in Noida Women Police on December 3. “Since then my life has been under threatened to withdraw the case against, otherwise face consequences,” says Manju.

Sources reaching to North East Support Centre & Helpline, say that when Manju went to Motibagh to look for paying guest room on January 12, two men, allegedly believed to be hired by Shivalik Ghosh, attacked her between 8.30 and 9 PM. “They came on a bike, wearing helmets, mentioned Shuvalik’s name, kicked and punched me,” says Manju. When she was lying on road, police patrolling van picked her up and took to Safdurjung Hospital, where she received medical treatment. “Latter I was taken to Dhaula Kuan police station and submitted my complaint in written,” says Manju.

On third day, Manju went to Dhaula Kuan Police station to collect copy of FIR (First Information Report) and found that the complaint was not registered. North East Support Centre & Helpline has appealed to Mr. HGS Dhaliwal, Deputy Commission of Police for Southern Range Delhi and Mrs Suman Nalwa, Additional Commissioner of Police for Crime against Women Cell to look into the matter. Assurance were given by both police officers, but until filing of this report, no case is registered against culprits and no security provided for Manju. “There has been huge concern about complaints being registered in police stations. In almost every case, we had to approach higher police official to pressure on police officers on duty to perform their duties. There must be a serious directive to police personnel on duties from higher police officials,” says a spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline. Manju has been running to different police stations, seeking safety of her life and legal action to be taken upon her rapist. She is worried about her own life.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Vatican

The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is based this year on reflections prepared by a group of Christian leaders from Jerusalem. The mediations invite the faithful to contemplate the first Christian community there, the Church of Jerusalem yesterday, today and tomorrow. Materials for the Week of Prayer are provided by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican website. The introduction to this year’s meditation reflects how the first disciples of Christ, gathered in Jerusalem, experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and were "joined together in unity as the body of Christ."

"In that event," it adds, "Christians of every time and place see their origin as a community of the faithful, called together to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. […] It is not difficult to see how the situation of the first Christians in the Holy City mirrors that of the church in Jerusalem today. The current community experiences many of the joys and sorrows of the early church; its injustice and inequality, and its divisions, but also its faithful perseverance, and recognition of a wider unity among Christians.

"The churches in Jerusalem today offer us a vision of what it means to strive for unity, even amid great problems. They show us that the call to unity can be more than mere words, and indeed that it can point us toward a future where we anticipate and help build the heavenly Jerusalem." Benedict XVI will follow tradition and close the Week of Prayer at vespers on Jan. 25, feast of the conversion of St. Paul. This year, he will also emphasize his concern for unity by participating in the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting of prayer for peace, convoked in 1986 in Assisi by Pope John Paul II.

Benedict XVI to Beatify John Paul II

Benedict XVI is planning to preside over the beatification rite for John Paul II on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, in the Vatican. A communiqué from the Congregation for Saints’ Causes announced that today the Pope, in an audience with the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Angelo Amato, "authorized the dicastery to promulgate the decree of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)." This was the final step in the process preceding the beatification rite, which will be celebrated on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast day instituted by John Paul II.

The communiqué noted: "It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God. "This provision was solicited by the great fame of sanctity which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death. "In all other ways, the normal canonical dispositions concerning causes of beatification and canonization were observed in full." The diocesan investigation into the cause for beatification of the Pontiff took place between June 2005 and April 2007. On Dec. 19, 2009, Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of the decree on his predecessor’s heroic virtue

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