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Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

Pope denounces anti-Christian violence

October 13, 2008

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— Pope Benedict XVI has created India's first woman saint, and denounced anti-Christian violence in that country and in Iraq.

The canonization of Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday is seen as a morale boost to minority Christians who have been attacked by Hindu mobs in eastern and southern India. Catholic bishops in India have said at least 40 Christians have been killed.

After the ceremony in St. Peter's Square to canonize Alphonsa and three others, Benedict told Indian pilgrims among the crowd of tens of thousands that Alphonsa's "heroic virtues of patience, fortitude and perseverance in the midst of deep suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial."

Christians have also been suffering violence in Iraq, with many fleeing the country in the past few years after attacks on priests, congregations and churches.

Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, had beatified Alphonsa during a pilgrimage to India in 1986. Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood, the church's highest honor for its faithful. Alphonsa, a nun from southern India, was 35 when she died in 1946.

An Indian man, Gonsalo Garcia, became a saint in 1862.

The others canonized Sunday by Benedict are: Gaetano Errico, a Neapolitan priest who founded a missionary order in the 19th century; Sister Maria Bernarda, born Verena Buetler in Switzerland in 1848, who worked as a nun in Ecuador and Colombia; and Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, a 19th century laywoman from Ecuador who helped the sick and the poor.

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