Rama Krishna Sangem
Cardinal Poola Anthony, archbishop of Hyderabad dioceses, mentioned the war torn Gaza’s people in his midnight mass at St Mary’s Basilica, in the wee hours of December 25, Sunday. “Our thoughts go to people of Israel, Palestine, Gaza and all other places like Ukraine, who couldn’t celebrate Christmas tonight,” said he in his brief speech at 12 am as amidst singing of carols.
Archbishop Anthony blessed all those who thronged the church yard, and lifted a toy of a baby Jesus, symbolically announcing the birth of the Boy over two thousand years ago in a cattleshed in Bethlehem, now in the strife torn Israel – Palestine borders. Carols were sung heralding the birth of Jesus to virgin Mary and her husband Joseph. Ironically, there were no celebrations at Bethlehem this year, due to the war.
As Jesus is revered as apostle of peace and Catholic church has always tried to balance between its orthodox values and efforts to accommodate just aspirations of underprivileged across the world, the views of Cardinals assume significance. Poola Anthony has been conferred the status of Cardinal recently. Cardinal bishops have voting rights to elect Pope in Vatican City. Presently, there are six cardinals in India out of the total around 120 in the world.
Midnight Mass at St Mary’s Basilica
Midnight mass at St Mary’s Basilica, a historical church built in 1850, is always special on Christmas in Hyderabad city. Hundreds of people who include Christians and non-Christians throng the spacious church courtyard and listen to carols and the speech of the archbishop. Interestingly, Catholics start Christmas prayers at midnight on December 24, Protestants, a major segment of Christians in India, celebrate the birth of Jesus only in the morning of December 25.
Israels’s war on Hamas located in Gaza is drawing everyone’s attention for the last two months. Naturally, people wanted to the views of Catholic heads on this burning issue. Cardinal Anthony, however, didn’t go into the details of the war in Gaza, but he expressed concern over the raging wars or turbulent conditions in the world. He wished those people would be able to celebrate Christmas with joy and peace.