Extremists Won't Intimidate Us, Says Cardinal Toppo

Encouragement Offered in Wake of Attacks

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GUWAHATI, India, FEB. 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The president of India's episcopate vows the Church won't back down in the face of intimidation by Hindu extremists.



"Catholics must not let Hindu fundamentalists weaken the Church's missionary spirit," said Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo. "This is a trial to be faced with the courage of the faith."

In a visit to the northeast of the country, where the provinces of Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya are the scene of ethnic conflicts, the cardinal last week called the Church to continue its activity despite intimidation and atrocities.

"We must never be afraid to proclaim the message of Christ," he said.

Cardinal Toppo's appeal resounded throughout the country as far as Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where bishops, clergy and laity have felt encouraged to carry on with the mission of daily witness of Christian life, local sources told the Vatican agency Fides.

The sources added that the cardinal voiced concern for the recent attacks on Catholic structures and personnel in various parts of India and particularly the slanderous campaign being waged by certain groups to discredit the Church.

"We are shocked by these events but not demoralized," the president of the bishops' conference stated. "The Church will continue to play a positive role for the improvement of society."

Expressing gratitude for the past work of missionaries in India, Cardinal Toppo added: "Now it is up to us to continue with confidence, not fear, the work they started."