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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Xmas wish for rape victim

Amid Christmas festivities at Archbishop House, Ranchi, Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo did not forget to pray for the girl who was gang-raped in New Delhi on December 16.

Since early Tuesday morning, Archbishop House on Purulia Road saw a stream of visitors — doctors, Sadbhavna Manch members, mediapersons, politicians, Ranchi Municipal Corporation councillors and others — many carrying flowers to wish the Cardinal a Merry Christmas.

Accepting the greetings of one and all, the Cardinal reminded every one of the grave dangers that the country’s women were facing and referred to the rape and brutal assault of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student by six men as a “crime against humanity”.

Reminding the gathering that the girl was in hospital, Toppo said: Women, the harbingers of the future generation, are in peril. I pray to God, the Saviour, to come to the aid of the hapless girl, still fighting for her life.”

He said that Jesus sacrificed his life at the cross to spread the message of love, peace and goodwill. “We need to take a cue from the message of Christmas to strengthen family and human values, save the girl child and close ranks to fight the evil that we call rape. When women and girls become victims of atrocities, communities and the entire society are affected,” the Cardinal stressed.

Earlier, Cardinal Toppo led the midnight mass at the 103-year-old St. Mary’s Cathedral on Purulia Road, asking citizens to contribute to the speedy development of state.

On Tuesday at 6am, despite his failing health, the Cardinal again led the two-hour mass at the cathedral for which hundreds had turned out.

Many among the faithful lit candles and prayed before Jesus and Mary.

Many lit candles at the grave of Constant Lievans, the Flemish Jesuit priest, whose mortal remains lie buried near the church entrance. Lievans had arrived in Chotanagpur in 1885 to lay the foundations of Roman Catholic Church in Jharkhand.

Church sources said the Cardinal would offer food to the poor and homeless at Loyola Grounds on Wednesday afternoon. “We often forget the existence of god. We fail to realise that god is by our side, guiding us through difficult times. We need to learn from the birth of Jesus to keep faith and love one another,” he said.