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April 25, 2021 : As many as 14 Catholic priests in India have succumbed to the Coronavirus pandemic between April 20 and 23.

They were among more than 20 priests the Church lost to Covid-19 in the past one month.

The latest victim was Father Lijo Thomas of the archdiocese of Nagpur, who died April 23 afternoon at Christ Hospital, Chandrapur in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He was 38.

Earlier in the day, the Dumka diocese in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand lost Father S Christudas, a tribal activist. The 58-year-old priest had recovered from Covid-19 a few days ago, but died after a fall in the bathroom.

On the same day, the deadly virus claimed Fathers Srinivasan, a member of the Madurai Jesuit province, Diago Dsouza of Bombay Jesuit province and Arulsamy of the archdiocese of Bhopal in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

A day earlier, Fathers Martin Anthony of the archdiocese of Bangalore, and Praveen Hrudayaraj, a member of the Karnataka Jesuit province, died of Covid.

The diocese of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh state lost Father Basant Lakra on April 21. The same day saw the deaths of Fathers George Karamayil of the Patna Jesuit province, Thomas Akkara of the Divine World Society, Joseph Cherusseril of Raipur archdiocese and Theodore Toppo of the Carmelites of Immaculate congregation in Jagdalpur diocese.

The archdiocese of Raipur in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on April 20 lost Father Antony Kunnath, the 78-year-old parish priest Mahasamund. On the same day, Covid-19 claimed Father Sanjay Francis, assistant parish priest of Vailankanni Matha Church, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh and a member of the Meerut diocese.

The Catholic Church in India, which comprises the Latin Rite as well as the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches, is served by over 30,000 priests, both diocesan and religious.

Religious communities, including women’s, have also been hit. The toll could be higher.

Source : Matters India

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