Day of Prayer and Fast
To the Clergy, Religious, Laity and People of good will in this Archdiocese
Day of Prayer and Fast for Communal Understanding
Twelve months ago, our Nation bled. Scores of people were killed in gory incidents and fifty thousand ran into neighboring forests and government refugee camps, for shelter and protection. Triggered by the equally regrettable murder of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswat, the spate of violence, arson, cold blooded murders and torching of houses, Christian institutions and places of worship seemed to have no end. A small minority, poor and defenceless, were the target of this organized violence which did not even spare some members of the majority community who were serving in those institutions. And to crown it all, there was the apathy of the Government and its machinery to add to the misery of the victims. Left alone to fend for themselves, they felt betrayed by the system.
It is one year since. The situation is limping back to normalcy. With threats hanging over their heads and with instances of forceful ‘purifications’ by repugnant methods, the people who were traumatized by those pogroms are being encouraged to return home, amidst promises of safety. On the other side, owing to the magnanimous financial help that poured in from all directions, demolished houses are being restored; and it is encouraging to see the new government in Orissa as well as the federal government helping the minorities and guaranteeing their safety.
There is, however, much left to be done. The confidence of the victims needs to be restored, their freedom of speech and worship needs to be guaranteed, their right to their house and property safeguarded. A peaceful coexistence of all communities needs to be restored, while churches and other institutions need to be rebuilt.
As a mark of our solidarity towards this process, let us observe September 6, 2009 as a day of prayer and fasting. Let us ask God to bless our country and to liberate it from the terribly communal virus that is striking at the very root of its secularism. We shall also pray for the perpetrators of this orchestrated anti-Christian violence that spread through a few states of our nation.
We ask our Pastors in the parishes and Superiors in our educational and religious institutions to organize prayer services for the intentions mentioned above and to encourage the people entrusted to their care to reinforce their prayer with fasting.
It may be opportune to remember that our Archdiocese, through the contribution of its faithful and from other sources, had forwarded Rs. 59,12 lakhs as a contribution towards the rehabilitation of the various victims of the anti-Christian violence. Another ten lakhs are now being sent, out of which Rs. 8,95 lakhs represent the donations that reached us after we had already sent the first offering.
We believe that remembering and praying over the painful memories of the year gone by will re-connect us with the victims in solidarity and also strengthen our faith.
Archbishop’s House, Goa, August 27th 2009.
(+ Filipe Neri Ferrão)
Archbishop of Goa and Daman