Persecuted facing ‘way of the cross’ this Easter

By STAFF REPORTER on Wednesday, 16 April 2014

• Assad shoves Christians into the firing line

A Syrian church left empty after a mortar attack. The faithful face their darkest Easter in many years (AP)
Christians in Syria are facing a seemingly endless Way of the Cross, one of the country’s most senior Church leaders has said.
As the ancient Church in the Middle East faced one of the most challenging Holy Weeks in its history, the Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus lamented the death of the Dutch Jesuit Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was shot dead by an unknown assailant in the besieged rebel enclave in Homs on April 7.
Archbishop Nassar told the faithful in a Palm Sunday letter: “This Holy Week was introduced by the murder of Fr Frans from Homs in the fourth year of war and violence. Shells raining down on our neighbourhoods, schools closed, we cannot give an account of the victims. We are abandoned to Providence.”
He continued: “This small Syrian people, so kind, generous and patient, have become accustomed to suffering and die in silence. It is in this spirit that we live Holy Week and Easter holidays, knowing that the Way of the Cross … has marked our lives for three years, accompanies the fourth year.
“The end of the tunnel is invisible.”  read more »

Police in India rebuke, file case against Christians fleeing Hindu extremist attack in Jharkhand

A police station official in India’s Jharkhand state this month reviled
Christians who sought protection after Hindu extremists beat and threatened
to kill them for refusing to convert to Hinduism, area church leaders said.  read more »

Islamists abduct 'more than 100' schoolgirls in Nigeria:

Maiduguri (Nigeria), Apr 15, 2014, (AFP)

Heavily armed Islamist gunmen kidnapped a group of girls from a secondary school in northeast Nigeria's Borno state and torched the surrounding town, a local official and a witness informed.
Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped more than 100 girls from a secondary school in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state, a senior security source told AFP.  read more »

Nigerian senator: '135 civilians killed' in attacks by Islamic Militants

Homes destroyed by Boko Haram militants in Bama, Borno State (February 2014)
Boko Haram has been accused of numerous attacks in the north including one last month in Bama, Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has informed sources.Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.  read more »

Archbishop of Orissa: Today's vote "worries Christians. But we believe in democracy"
by Nirmala Carvalho

"GCIC prays that the administration will ensure the safety and protection of the Kandhamal people as they go to cast their ballots today. Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack -Bhubaneshwar, tells AsiaNews: "We hope that the new government will give justice to the victims of the carnage". Kandhamal votes today in the third phase of the general elections, one of the most important.  read more »

13,687 families depend on manual scavenging in Kerala

Published on 28 March 2014

T Ramavarman

KOCHI: The enumerators for the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 seem to have come up with some curious data.According to them, there are 13,687 families who depend on manual scavenging to eke out a living in Kerala which has won global acclaim for its high levels of social development.
Another perplexing finding is that there are 14,947 freed bonded labour families in the state.  read more »

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