A sign of brotherly love of the universal church – that is why Christians in Poland want to join the celebrations of the Odisha Martyrs' Day observed on August 30 in India.
India is one of the largest and most populous countries of the world – it is inhabited by over 1.2 billion people. In such a big country Christians make just a small percent of the total population but still constitute a large community composed of millions of people.
The believers in Christ have unceasingly experienced repression from the Hinduist majority, who in recent years has won the support of the anti-Christian politicians ruling India. Persecution has often led to torturous death. This was also the case in the state of Odisha.
Odisha is one of the states in eastern India, which in 2008 became the arena for the most severe persecution of Christians in the modern history of India. The worst wave of persecutions was recorded in Kandhamal – the central region in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar diocese. Nearly 100 people lost their lives in result of persecutions and 50,000 were left homeless.
The victims included the elderly and disabled people as well as women and children.
They suffered torturous deaths but till the last moments of their lives they gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ. The number of the injured people or those who suffered psychological trauma has not been estimated. There have been reports of numerous rapes too. Many churches and other places of cult have been destroyed, many schools and charity organizations' offices have been vandalized, around 50,000 people have been displaced and forced to stay at camps for the displaced persons, and more than 10,000 children had to discontinue education in result of displacement and in fear of persecution.
This year, archbishop John Barwa from the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar diocese has appointed a team to initiate the canonization process of the "Odisha Martyrs" with a view to proclaiming them saints by the Church.
To commemorate the martyrs, August 30 was proclaimed the Odisha Martyrs' Day.
The Christiani Foundation stays in close touch with Christians in Kandhamal and supports them both spiritually and financially. Christians in India would be very grateful for our prayers for them.
The Odisha Martyrs' Day on August 30 is an excellent occasion to show the Christians of India that we remember about them and pray for them. The fact that we can pray for them is a great gift for Christians in Poland. The Odisha martyrs teach us true faith in Christ and show us how to find our way in the universal church. We often tend to forget that the great gift of the universal church is also a responsibility for each other and that brothers and sisters who suffer and are persecuted for their faith especially deserve our love and support.
Poles still remember the joyful and enthusiastic encounter with the universal church, the Church young in faith whose members arrived in our country to attend World Youth Day. The community of faith turned out to be so strong that culture or language differences did not matter. However, we cannot content ourselves just with a meeting. It should also bear fruit in the form of greater care for the Church not only in the particularistic dimension, but also in the universal dimension, and especially in the form of our concern for our persecuted brothers in faith.
The first and basic impulse of a Christian should be to pray and prayer is also the most powerful weapon to fight evil. Therefore we appeal to all the faithful – to individuals, groups and communities for the unity with Christians persecuted in India. Let August 30 become the day when our suffering brothers in India get the gift of the unified prayer of the Church in Poland. Let us pray in particular during this time through the intercession of saint John Paul II – the Apostle of Divine Mercy and the Christian solidarity teacher. Let the resolutions taken during this time also reflect our maturity for responsibility for the Church. Let this day of remembrance and prayer activate spiritual and social strength in us that will help develop an "imagination of mercy" in the modern world and help us grow in the culture of solidarity, whose principal source for each Christian is always our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christiani Foundation
The Christian Solidarity's Work and Culture Association "Ecce Homo"
The Apostleship of Prayer of the Shrine of Our Lady of Piotrków Trybunalski
The Right Wing of the Republic
Warsaw, August 24, 2016