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EFI Protests Ouster of Catholic Nuns from Government Leprosy Hospital in Gujarat

ICC Note:

The only reason for the government’s dismissal of five Catholic nuns is that they were allegedly preaching Christianity to the patients in the hospital.

By Surojit Chatterjee

Christian Today India (07/14/06) – The Evangelical Fellowship of India has condemned the Gujarat Government’s decision to terminate the contract of five Catholic nuns belonging to Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in spite of their faithful service to the patients in the city’s government leprosy hospital for over 57 years on the grounds that they were allegedly preaching Christianity to the patients.

According to the evangelical body, instead of recognizing the nuns’ tireless service to leprosy patients, the state government of Gujarat used “conversion” and “preaching Christianity” as an excuse to terminate their employment.

Many leprosy patients, like Babban Sitapur, are also protesting the decision and have vowed that they will follow the sisters wherever they go. “They are everything for us,” said Babban Sitapur. “Not even our family members take such care of us.”

Another patient, Chinga Powar, recalled that in a Maharashtrian hospital, doctors would “not even come near us. The nurses would give out tablets in a plastic bag tied to a stick. The toilets were never cleaned, because lepers used it. We were treated worse than animals.”

Eventually when someone reported to him about the Ahmedabad hospital and the Catholic nuns, Powar left the Maharashtra hospital. He covered all his wounds, using a shawl to hide his face and rode in the back of a bus to Ahmedabad.

According to news reports, Powar also helped two other patients from the hospital in Maharashtra to come to Ahmedabad. “[In the beginning] I didn’t know the place, but I knew it was managed by Christian nuns, which was enough inspiration to come here,” Powar recalled.

“It is clear that conversion is merely being used as ploy to carry out the Gujarat governments agenda to hamper the Christian community’s service in public space,” said Rev. Richard Howell, general secretary, EFI. “It is deeply regretted that the Gujarat Government in stead of recognizing the nuns’ tireless service to leprosy patients has used the state machinery to disrupt and stop their work with total disregard of the consequences for the leprosy patients.”

The EFI has urged the Christian community nationwide to pray for the persecuted Christians in Gurajat and petition to the concerned authorities on behalf of the Catholic nuns.