04/07/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Nepali Catholics oppose caste influence

by Kalpit Parajuli
In a three-day seminar held in Godavari, Mgr Menamparampil, archbishop of Guwahati in India, slams the growth of Brahmanism’s caste-centred culture. He tells Nepali Catholics to help minorities “preserve their egalitarian ethos.”
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s Catholic community went on a mission in the western part of the country. At the St Vinney Pastoral Centre in Godavari, 15 kilometres south-west of Kathmandu, it organised a three-day seminar on evangelisation. Several priests, religious and lay people came on the invitation of Mgr Anthony Sharma, apostolic vicar for Nepal. The event took place on 1-3 April.

“The emphasis of our missionary thrust is in western Nepal because we have already made progress in eastern Nepal,” Bishop Sharma.

Mgr Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop of Guwahati in India, was among the main speakers. He heads the Evangelisation Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

Benedict XVI chose him to write the Mediations for this year’s Via Crucis in the Coliseum.

In his address at the three-day event he stressed the growing problem of saffronisation in South Asia, based on support for caste divisions in Brahmin culture.

Unfortunately, this process is also starting to affect the region’s religious minorities, the archbishop noted.

In spite of this “Buddhists, Jains and Asoka faithful as well as Tribal people living in the sub-Himalayan region are determined to preserve their egalitarian ethos against the pressures of Brahmanism,” Monsignor Menamparampil.

“In order to save their culture and traditions, weak communities and rural populations are looking for a Moses figure who can help them define their identity in a new situation,” he said.

Even if they are a small minority in this mountain nation, it is incumbent upon Christians to lead these communities in "a new exodus across the Red Sea", he said.

The Catholic community is indeed small with only 8,000 members in a country of 27 million, 86 per cent of whom are Hindu, 7 per cent Buddhist and 3.5 per cent Muslim.

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