Church Burnt in Punjab:
According to media reports, an irate mob of Muslims set a church on fire on late Sunday night, September 11, 2010 in the state of Punjab. Following rumours of burning of a Quran in the US, a mob gathered and proceeded to the town's only church in Loha Bazar, shouting slogans against the US government. The mob then set furniture of the church on fire before the police intervened. H.S. Bhullar SP Sangrur district said that police reinforcement was rushed to spot after getting reports of the unrest. The district authorities imposed curfew to contain the violence. A First Information Report has been lodged under sections 295A & 307 of the Indian Penal Code. As on press time, no arrests had been made.
Christian School Gutted in Kashmir:
In a separate incident, angry mobs in north Kashmir Tangmarg town, torched a Christian missionary school of the Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson Educational Society, the office of the social welfare department and a police vehicle on September 13. Large crowds also gathered in Shalteng, Ompora, Bemina and other places of Srinagar city, defying the ongoing curfew imposed in the wake of widespread violence, shouting pro-Quran and anti-America slogans. Pro-Islam and anti-US protests were also held at Humhama, Ompora, Shalteng, Shalimar, Newthead and other places in Srinagar. In a statement to the press, Chief Secretary SS Kapur, described as "unfortunate" the arson attack on a Christian missionary school. "We appeal to the people not to heed unverified reports about the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran which have only been aired by Press TV and no other television news channel in the world. These rumours are spread by anti-social elements with nefarious designs and people should not heed these," he said. Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy, Church of North India said that "the school students are not hurt. The building has totally burnt down. It was entirely made of wood. Though the officials were informed of a possible attack and requested for safety there was no action taken. The mob even stopped the fire brigade from reaching the spot."
Church Service Disrupted in Uttar Pradesh:
On September 12, at around 11.30 am a mob of approximately 35 members of Arya Samaj sect of Hinduism disrupted a church service in Naggal in the Saharanpur District of Uttar Pradesh. Pastor Rockwell Louis of Masih Satsang Mandali in Naggal, reported that, “while the Church service was in progress the mob entered the room where worship was conducted. They started arguing with the pastor and Church people and blaming for converting people.” Though the members tried to reason with the mob that they are following Christ in exercise of their freedom of conscience and because they have been personally blessed by Christ. The mob refused to listen and kept arguing. "Only after the police’s intervention did the mob finally leave" said Louis "they would have been violent if the police was not there." Earlier on September 5, a same group along with their leader had disturbed Church service. They accused the pastor of eating meat and converting people. The mob argued that the Bible is wrong and presents a false God. They had warned that they would return September 12 and would not allow Sunday worship service to take place.
Fruits of Evangelization Depend on Faith & Prayer:
Vatican - At midday today Benedict XVI received participants in a congress for recently-consecrated bishops, regularly organised by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, headed by Cardinal Ivan Dias. The Pope began his remarks by referring to the challenges they have to face, "especially in Christian communities that live their faith in difficult contexts where, apart from various kinds of poverty, they have to face persecution because of their Christian faith". In this context he reminded the prelates of their "duty to nourish people's hopes, to share their difficulties, drawing inspiration from Christ's charity which consists in care, tenderness, compassion, hospitality, availability and interest in people's problems, for which we are ready to give our lives".
Speaking then of the episcopal ministry, the Holy Father explained that "it can be understood only on the basis of Christ, source of the one and supreme priesthood in which the bishop is made a participant. .. In order to imitate Christ it is necessary to dedicate an adequate period of time to 'being with Him', contemplating Him in the intimacy of prayer. ... Remaining frequently in God's presence, being a man of prayer and adoration; these are the primary duties to which the pastor is called". After then highlighting how "the life of the bishop must be a constant oblation to God for the salvation of His Church, and especially for the salvation of the souls entrusted to his care", the Pope noted that "the office of bishop, like that of priest, must never be misunderstood in worldly terms. It is a service of love". "The acceptance and the fruit of the proclamation of the Good News are closely linked to the quality of faith and prayer. Those called to the ministry of preaching must believe in the power of God which is released in the Sacraments and which accompanies them in their duty to sanctify, govern and announce. They must believe and live what they proclaim and celebrate".
"In many cases", Benedict XVI went on to note, the prelates' communities "represent a minority presence. In these contexts the mission of the bishop is particularly demanding. Yet, it is precisely in such circumstances that, through your ministry, the Gospel can reveal all its salvific power. You must not give in to pessimism and discouragement, because it is the Holy Spirit that guides the Church and gives her ... the courage to persevere and seek new methods of evangelisation, so as to reach areas as yet unexplored. "The Christian truth", he added in conclusion, "is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the profound need of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the one Saviour of all of man and of all mankind. This announcement remains valid today, just as it was at the beginning of Christianity when the first great missionary expansion of the Gospel took place".
General Secretary, The CSF
Catholic-Christian Secular Forum