Roman Catholic Diocese of Chingleput

Bishop's Speaks

Dear Fathers / Brothers / Sisters

Peace and Joy of Christ the Emmanuel!

In the last week of November, I had the unique opportunity of visiting a few villages in Kandhamal district, Odisha. Meeting the victims of Kandhamal violence was indeed a life-changing experience for me and for the priests and religious accompanying  me. The words that came straight from the hearts of these innocent victims were truly moving and brought tears in our eyes.

What stood out in all their sharings was the deep and unshakable faith of these simple people. They had lost their properties, possessions, houses and means of livelihood. Many of them had lost their dear ones and some of them had the misfortune of seeing their dear ones being persecuted and burnt alive in their very presence even as they helplessly looked on. Yet, the people kept repeating to us that they were, infact, happy to suffer everything for the sake of Christ. As one is amazed at their heroic faith, they leave one spell bound when they say that they are ready to go through the same ordeal all over again for the love of Christ and his gospel. The deep faith of these simple people and their courageous witness certainly poses serious questions concerning our own faith and vocation. Have we taken our faith commitment seriously? How meaningfully do we live our faith? I shared with the Priests and religious who accompanied me that this experience must motivate us to come out of our comfort zones, revisit our call as priests and religious and to deepen our commitment for the cause of the kingdom.

The cause of the Kingdom necessarily means the cause of the poor and the marginalized. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ our Saviour it is only fitting that we give serious consideration to our commitment to the cause of the poor, the marginalized, the exploited the oppressed and the outcaste. The birth of Christ, the messiah, must always be seen in relation to the mission of Jesus of Nazareth - Jesus’ messianic mission (Lk 4:18-19). The mission of Jesus must become our mission too.

The words of Isaiah, the Prophet “The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined” (Is.9:2) which we read for the midnight mass every Christmas is a reminder that the messiah leads people from darkness to light, from despair to hope and from death to life. The celebration of Christmas, therefore, is an invitation for all of us to lead our people from darkness to light. We must be able, by our Presence, words and ministry, to bring light, hope and joy into the lives of the poor and the disadvantage people. Let the poor find true love and solidarity as the Christ child comes into this world.

God Bless you All !


+ Most Rev. Dr. A. Neethinathan

   Bishop of Chingleput


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