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Bangladesh bishop says Catholics still living in fear

ICC Note: Christians, who run the best schools and hospitals in Bangladesh, number less than a half a million in a country of 147 million, and are continually fearful of attacks from radical Muslims.

Indian Catholic

3/9/07 Bangladesh (CNA): Bishop Bejoy Nicephorus D’Cruze of Khulna , South West Bangladesh, has told Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the faithful in his diocese continue to seek protection from Islamic fundamentalists.

“Christians in Bangladesh are a tiny minority,” Bishop D’Cruze said on his March 7th visit to ACN headquarters, “but the Church has its role, especially where we have churches and institutions.”

“We are afraid of fundamentalism. We still need protection, which the state is ready to give us,” he added.

According to the Bishop, in Bangladesh there are only about 300,000 Catholics and some 200,000 Protestants, among 147 million people.

The bishop said that Christianity’s recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings also stands in stark contrast to Hindu’s caste system. “Some 35 percent in my diocese come from a low Hindu Background, Christianity can give them human dignity,” the bishop said.

“We have the best schools and colleges and good hospitals too. In Khulna diocese, there are 61 Catholic schools and 4 Catholic hospitals. Education is a priority for me. I have 53 well-trained catechists.”

Khulna diocese has about 29,000 Catholics out of a population of 15 million, and 21 priests, according to the bishop.