KOCHI, ( Adv. Jose Vithayathil) — Major archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry released the Malayalam translation of the English book ‘Early Christians of 21st century – stories of incredible Christian witness from Kandhamal jungles’ in Orissa at the Kerala Catholic Council assembly in Kochi on December 11.
The 75,000 word book, authored by journalist Anto Akkara and is being translated into French, is a collection over of 100 stories amazing witness to the Christian faith amid brutal persecution of poor but valiant Christians and has been translated by Fr Dr. Devassy Panthallookaran, former principal of St Thomas College, Thrissur.
Cardinal Alencherry released the book in the presence over 100 top Kerala church leaders including three dozen bishops by handing over the first copy to archbishop Andrews Thazhath, president of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC).
“I congratulate Anto (Akkara) for bringing to the attention of the world the sufferings and unwavering faith of the persecuted Christians of Kandhamal, going beyond his role as a journalist,” said Cardinal Alencherry while releasing the book. In his additional foreword to the book (apart from the one from Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India), Major archbishop Cardinal Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar church has described the book as ‘a testimonial for martyrs’.
“This is an inspiring book in the year of Faith,” remarked archbishop Thazhath, head of the Kerala church, during the release at the headquayPastotrheld .
Orthodox bishop Gabriel mar Gregorios, president of Kerala Council of Churches (that comprises of all major non-Catholic churches in the Christian heartland of Kerala), in his tribute to the book has described it as ‘a book that every Christian must read’.
Akkara in his response said that though he visited Kandhamal initially as a journalist to report from the ground zero, it was the incredible faith of the valiant Christians who remained firm in their faith despite untold suffering that forced him to make arduous trips to Kandhamal repeatedly for five years since Christmas 2007.
“I have tried to document truthfully their incredible faith, pains and sufferings in words and pictures,” said the photo journalist author who added that more than 100 Christians died for their faith in Kandhamal while 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses were looted, torched or destroyed rendering more than 56,000 people homeless.
The Malayalam translation of the book is published by Veritas India Books, a new publishing firm based in Thrissur.
Adv. Jose Vithayathtil
Secretary, Laity Commission, KCBC
(Akkara had earlier authored two books, ‘Kandhamal – a blot on Indian Secularism’ – investigative book that stirred national conscience on Kandhamal in April 2009, and later ‘Shining Faith in Kandhamal’)