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Archbishop farewells Orissa flock
Kandhamal Christians praised for enduring faith in face of violenceArchbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar lays the foundation stone of destroyed church in Pabingia, Kandhamal
- Ajay Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
- March 17, 2011
â€śYou have raised the faith into new heights at the face of death. I am proud of you,â€ť Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar yesterday told some 3,000 people at Raikia, a divisional headquarters in Kandhamal district of Orissa state.
Two thirds of parishes in the district come under the archdiocese, which was the epicenter of anti-Christian violence in 2008 that killed more than 90 people and displaced more than 50,000 people.
The Divine Word prelate is currently on a five-day tour of Kandhamal villages, his last official visit. He is scheduled to leave the office on April 2.
â€śYou have not deserted your faith but clung to Christ more. I cannot but salute your faith,â€ť Archbishop Cheenath told the gathering
The prelate, however, cautioned the Kandhamal Christians not to be misled by the apparent peace prevailing in the area. â€śFor the government, peace has returned, but I am not sure how long it would remain,â€ť he said.
He also urged the Christians not to â€śsit idle, but continue to fight for our constitutional rights especially religious freedom to earn sustainable peace.â€ť
Several people told ucanews.com that they appreciated the archbishopâ€™s efforts to get justice for the violence victims.
â€śHe went up to the Supreme Court and earned the ecumenical leadership. He stood by every denomination,â€ť said Jacob Digal, a village leader.
Shibani Behera, a woman leader, said the archbishop is a Marian devotee and always encouraged women to take the lead for the communityâ€™s advancement.
Satyabrata Jena, a local government official, said the administration could control violence because Christians heeded to the archbishopâ€™s call to remain calm and tolerant, despite severe provocations.
â€śHe helped the government to restore the peace,â€ť Jena added.
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