Bangladesh Christians Celebrate their Faith Amid Persecution

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Catholics in Bangladesh gathered in Chittagong last month to celebrate the country’s 500 years of Christianity.

Church leaders, lay representatives and other participants flocked to the Queen of Fatima Catholic Church in Bandarban district to commemorate their “heritage of faith,” reports Union of Catholic Asian News.

We need to know our heritage so that we can celebrate our richness of faith in order to become a living, participatory and new church. ~Archbishop, Moses M. Costa

Holy Cross Archbishop Moses M. Costa led the pastoral gathering. In a speech, he asked the Catholics to remember the missionaries who brought the Christian faith to their country half a century ago.

He said, “We need to know our heritage so that we can celebrate our richness of faith in order to become a living, participatory and new church.”

Catholic-run institutions such as schools and hospitals play a great role in providing the basic necessities to the local poor, according to The Hindu.  However, recent attacks by Islam extremists made the small Christian community fear for their safety.

Various activities were lined up for the special jubilee year which was entitled “Heritage, Celebration and Renewal.” Faith confirmation, health services, evangelization, and catechism are some of the topics discussed among the participants.

Archbishop Costa said the Chittagong Archdiocese is focusing on faith formation of various groups in the community, starting with the family. He emphasized the importance of understanding incarnation, about why Jesus came into this world. “It will help us to understand what the church really means and what faith will do for us.”

Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. Christians make up less than 0.5% of the country’s 160 million people. For many years, Christians have lived a peaceful existence in the South Asian country. Catholic-run institutions such as schools and hospitals play a great role in providing the basic necessities to the local poor, according to The Hindu.

However, recent attacks by Islam extremists made the small Christian community fear for their safety. Last year, jihadists murdered a Catholic grocer and two converts from Islam. In addition, the government implemented a law which forced about 200 Christian organizations to shut down, reports Gatestone Institute.

Despite the persecution, the Catholics in Chittagong are looking forward to the events of the year-long jubilee celebration.

“Missionaries and Christians shed blood and lives for their faith,” said Sister Hanima from Little Handmaids of the Church congregation. “They have become witnesses of Christ amid persecution and didn’t stop preaching love of Christ and serving people. Their life of faith is an inspiration for us.”

Sources:
Union Catholic Asian News
The Hindu
Gatestone Institute

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