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India: Christians march for peace
NewsNotes, March-April 2010
Vol. 35 No. 2

On February 13, a bomb exploded in the western Indian city of Pune, killing 15 people and wounding 56. A peace rally, attended by 3,000 people, was held on February 22. The following article was published by UCAN, the Union of Catholic Asia News.

… Students and teachers joined the crowd which gathered at a church center in the city to pray for peace and for those who died. Later they marched to a bakery where the bomb blast occurred ….

Catholic Bishop Thomas Dabre and Protestant Bishop Vijay Sathe … joined the prayers and the one kilometer march.

The procession saw Catholic priests and nuns carrying placards condemning terrorism and highlighting the promotion of peace, harmony and the protection of lives.

Suspected Islamic terrorists planted the bomb allegedly to force India and Pakistan to resolve issues over the disputed Indian Kashmir region, India’s only Muslim majority territory.

Bishop Dabre told the marchers religion was getting a bad name as such attacks have been carried out in the name of faith. True religion speaks of love and therefore should inspire all to protect lives, he stressed.

The prelate said terrorism “doesn’t distinguish between the guilty and the innocent” because it has “no morality or ethical values.” People of good will should come together and oppose terrorism, he said.

The peace marchers also lit candles and prayed in front of the destroyed German bakery, a shop often frequented by foreign tourists.

Joseph D’Souza, a teacher, said some 500 students from various faiths joined the rally.

Lalrin Sailo, a student, said she and friends also prayed for “a change of heart by terrorists.” Just condemning terrorism was not enough, the 24-year-old college student said.

Joshua Ratnam, secretary of the Protestant diocese, said “it was a moving experience” that both Catholic and Protestant bishops joined in the prayers.

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