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ICC Note: Indian Christians have called on Pope Francis to acknowledge the Christian victims of the 2008 anti-Christian riots that swept across Odisha as martyrs of the faith. According to these Christians, this recognition would historically recognize the sacrifice of at least 91 Christians killed in the violence and help strengthen the faith of Indian Christians overall.

08/27/2018 India (Asia News) – Pope Francis should acknowledge that the Christian victims of the 2008 pogroms in Kandhamal, Odisha, are “martyrs of the faith”, this according to an open letter penned by John Dayal, an Indian activist and former national president of the All India Catholic Union.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the most vicious wave of anti-Christian persecution carried out by Hindu extremists. For Dayal, “The faith of the Kandhamal Christians must be recognized in the way the Church has historically recognized such sacrifice.”

In his missive to the pontiff, the activist writes, “We have pressed with the Archbishop of Cuttack Bhubaneswar, with the four Cardinals and the Hierarchy that the dead of the 2008 Kandhamal violence be recognized by the Church as Martyrs of the Faith.  That is what they are. Their recognition will, we feel, strengthen the faith of the people of India, especially at a time like the one we are going through.”

John Dayal notes that Mgr John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, which covers Kandhamal, “Has formally started the process. [But] needs a national movement to give it the pace that is required. As the head of our Church, as the Pope, we look upon you and pray that the process be expedited. This will refresh and rejuvenate the Church in India and strengthen the faith of each one of us.”

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