ASIA NEWS IT REPORT
by Nirmala Carvalho
John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, such an event is unprecedented
in the history of the troubled state of Orissa. Hundreds of thousands of
Catholics and Hindus brought flowers and candles to the Baby Jesus in all the
parishes of the state. In his New Year message, the archbishop stresses the
importance of young people in spreading and bearing witness to the message of
Christ among the nations.
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of thousands of Christians and Hindus took
part in Midnight Mass in the parishes of Kandhamal, Bubhaneshwar and other
districts in Orissa. For Mgr John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar,
"the level of participation is unprecedented in the history of the Church in
Orissa". Interviewed by AsiaNews, the prelate said that "sense of
peace, festivity and prayer was palpable in the churches."
Catholics and non-Christians came to Mass with their families. Hundreds of
children brought flowers and candles, which they placed before crèches to pay
homage to the Baby Jesus. In light of the anti-Christian pogroms by Hindu
extremists in 2007 and 2008 that left hundreds dead, this is extraordinary fact.
"God came to earth to be with us," the archbishop noted. "Slowly,
non-Christians are recognising that." For the prelate, the large crowd is a sign
that Christ brings together people from all nations.
"A young Italian woman attending the Mass asked me why there were so many
people," he said. "Because they want to share the joy of Jesus," he answered.
"Looking at all these people, I realised that I am not a pastor for
Christians alone. All the people in my archdiocese belong to my flock. On 25
December, the Baby Jesus spoke to everyone with the simplicity of his presence,
telling everyone: 'I am here!'"
In his message for 2012, Mgr Barwa thanked the civilian administration for
protecting religious buildings during Christmas celebrations.
"All that we are and all that we have is God's gift," the archbishop said.
"The New Year, 2013, the Year of Faith, is God's gift to us who are privileged.
I hope the New Year will be rich in opportunities to work together and that it
may bring hope, harmony and communion in Orissa."
For the archbishop, youth and children are the backbone of Orissa's Christian
community. Through education to deepen faith in Jesus, they can be agents of
social change and true messengers of Christ in a society divided by hatred and
violence.SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT