A Catholic archbishop in north-east India, who has seen his diocese at the centre of a wave of deadly attacks, has issued an urgent appeal for prayers “to transform the minds of the people who are led by hatred and religious violence”.
In a letter to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal, Manipur State, said “the need is enormous” and “the destruction and loss to communities and the Church is great”.
Thousands of people have been displaced after their homes were destroyed in acts of what he called “ethnic cleansing” involving the Meitei and Kuki tribes.
ACN reported last month that more than 300 churches and other buildings belonging to Christian organisations had been destroyed during the violent conflict.
Archbishop Lumon wrote that his community has been “cut off from the rest of the world” for the last three months because of an “internet and social media ban imposed by the government since communal violence erupted in the state”.
He added: “The situation is still grim and tense. So far, no lasting political solutions have been found and the apathy and the silence of the authorities continues.”
He said any interventions by the Church “have to go slow and be carefully executed as there are many hurdles and blocks caused by the political turmoil and sporadic violence.
“Mutual suspicion and animosity is mounting every day.”
The archbishop explained that the Catholic Church is providing humanitarian aid, including essential goods, hygiene kits, psychological support, medical help and educational assistance for children.
Archbishop Lumon said: “What we need most is your prayers. The power of prayer can transform the minds of the people who are led by hatred and religious intolerance.
“We need to pray for our political leaders, our decision makers and men of goodwill that they may initiate amicable solutions.
“Let there be peace, harmony and common brotherhood and those who have been deprived of their rights and dignity get their justice.”
He went on: “The Church is involved in dialogue and network meetings of faith-based organisations with appeals to people in authorities for amicable solutions.”