But the anti-Christian act that provoked the greatest outrage was, on June 25, the aggression against four sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in a hospital of the Hindu temple town of Tirupati, in Andra Pradesh, a state in which there is no anti-conversion law in force.
The four sisters of the Missionaries of Charity – Maria Julia, Chriselda, Emma Felesia, and Reena Francis – had come to the hospital to assist the sick, as they have done every Sunday for years, with the permission of the authorities. Surrounded by a crowd of 300 persons, including news broadcasters, and accused of converting the dying through coercion, they were held hostage until the arrival of the police, who placed the sisters under arrest.
They were freed, late in the evening, by the prime minister of the state, upon the request of the archbishop of Hyderabad, Marampudi Joji. The following day, the archbishop held a press conference together with non-Catholic representatives of the Christian Federation of Andra Pradesh. The sisters were authorized to resume their apostolate, and a judicial investigation was begun into the organizers of the attack. The Hindu fundamentalists, the archbishop said, “are pointing to the bogeyman of conversions to discredit our chief minister, who is Christian, and to bring down his government.”
The aggression against the Missionaries of Charity has no precedent in India. Their founder, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, is respected in India as a national institution, universally honored regardless of religious affiliation. What happened to the four sisters on June 25 marks the crossing of a critical threshold. Hinduist organizations have planned a demonstration in the capital, Delhi, for July 11, intended “to raise awareness in the population about the Christian danger.”