Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mumbai Cardinal begins Advent with slum poor

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai has launched the Advent Campaign against hunger and disease with a pastoral visit to Dharavi, an area known as Asia's biggest slum.

"Pope Francis has dedicated his pontificate to economic justice, equality and peace. During his visits to poor communities, he praised the courage of the poor, urging society to receive them with love and compassion," the cardinal said launching the initiative.

With the theme "struggle for survival-- bringing hope to the urban poor," the campaign to create greater awareness in society towards the poor who live in large urban centres.

The cardinal visited the Dharavi on Nov. 22. The area created in 1880, under British colonialism, now houses some 1 million people of multi-religious and multi-ethnic population. The area enshrines many negative aspects of India: open sewers, piles of garbage everywhere, dirt and crumbling shacks.

Mumbai's St. Antony's parish covers Dharavi and within a radius of about 300 metres there are six chapels. Two Christian communities are particular to the parish: Tamils (about 5,000 people) and ethnic koli (about 1,000 people).

Cardinal Gracias visited the parish and six chapels, stopping to pray and to bless all the faithful he met on his journey.

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