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Maoist strike disrupts diocesan synod

February 08 2010

RANCHI, India (UCAN) -- Ranchi archdiocese's first synod was disrupted today [Feb. 8] by a 72-hour strike by Maoists.

Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo of the 83-year-old diocese told UCA News that the strike had crippled traffic in Jharkhand state.

"Many participants from distant places and bishops from other dioceses could not come as buses or other vehicles are not running," the cardinal added.

The Maoist Communist Center, an outlawed group in Jharkhand, began the strike from midnight on Feb. 6 to protest the federal government's crackdown on Maoist groups in the country.

Some 290 people, including nine bishops, were to attend the Feb. 8-13 synod at the Social Development Centre in Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state.

Cardinal Toppo said the synod aims to review all Church activities in the archdiocese.

"I have spent 25 years at Ranchi heading the Church. It is high time we reviewed all our activities from the religious to the social," he added.

He said the synod would also pinpoint drawbacks and suggest remedial actions.

"At the same time, a blueprint for the future action plan would be drawn up in consultations with all participants," he added.

In his opening address, the cardinal said the synod was significant for the entire Church in Chotanagpur that now spreads over several eastern Indian states. The first group of Catholics was baptized in 1873.

When missioners first arrived in the region, its tribal people were "mercilessly trampled under foot" by others. "But once they accepted Jesus, they rose with him in baptism. Now they are God's people, a people with voice, with self respect and confidence," noted the prelate, the first tribal cardinal from Asia.

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