Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Dhaka Christians refute Muslim conversion claims
Church leaders speak out against hardline Muslim groupChristian groups say they have kept silent amid fears of an Islamic backlash (photo by Chandan Robert Rebeiro)
- ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
- April 22, 2013
Church leaders have broken their silence over a recent campaign by a radical Islamist group which has made accusations that Christians have tried to convert Muslims. The group has threatened to blockade Dhaka if its numerous demands are not met.
On April 6, the Muslim group Hifazat-e-Islam urged the government to initiate the death penalty for bloggers defaming Islam, guarantee mandatory Islamic education and restore a pledge to Allah in the constitution by May 5.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ministers from the ruling Awami League have strongly rejected the demands.
Hifazat is a group linked to opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, a major adversary of the government. Church groups have until now remained wary of commenting on its hardline stance which has also included accusations that newly formed Protestant churches and NGOs are attempting to convert Muslims.
Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi denied Catholic involvement in conversion, an activity which is not illegal according to Bangladeshi law.
“The Catholic Church is not involved in such activities. Anyone with specific allegations should go to the court and we will prove our innocence,” he said in an interview at the weekend.
He added that, on the conmtrary, there was proof of Muslim conversions of Christians.
Accusations against Christian groups were made under article 10 of a 13-point list of demands made by Hifazat on April 6.
Mufti Faizullah, joint secretary of the group, declined to name churches and NGOs accused of converting Muslims over what he said was a fear of inciting unrest in a country which has seen political and religious tensions explode in recent months with almost daily strikes and protests.
“We don’t want to name churches and NGOs but we can if the government wants to know,” he added.
Nirmol Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, accused radical Islamic groups of systematic campaigns spreading false information to discredit Christianity in Bangladesh.
“I think there is a sense of fear over reprisal and a lack of fortitude among Church leaders over the issue,” he said.
A Dhaka-based Catholic leader who declined to be named said fear of reprisals by Islamic groups had forced Christian leaders to keep silent in recent weeks following a backlash in the past by what he termed Islamic “fundamentalists.”
“The Church wants to work in silence and avoid further controversy,” he said.