02/01/2018, 14.04
INDIA
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Card Gracias stresses the role of education in promoting interreligious harmony

A symposium on interfaith dialogue is held in Mumbai. Although Catholic schools have been attacked in India, inside "teachers and students of every religion must be encouraged to join the quest for peace by examining our own readiness to forgive others and to be reconciled, and by making gestures of forgiveness and reconciliation." What is needed is a cultural revolution and an ethic of justice, and reconciliation "is indispensable for the promotion of peace in society".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Education plays a fundamental role in "fostering religious harmony," said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).

Speaking on Tuesday at a symposium on interreligious and intercultural dialogue at St Andrews College in Mumbai, he noted that India is a country full of contrasts, sociological and economic, “a land where in spite of so much of diversity, there is still unity.”

For the prelate, "Education must strive to unveil cultural and religious intolerance and prejudices". Yet, Catholic schools in India were recently the victims of a number of acts of intimidation and aggression by Hindu radicals.

Despite this, “In our educational institutions, teachers and students of every religion must be encouraged to join the quest for peace by examining our own readiness to forgive others and to be reconciled, and by making gestures of forgiveness and reconciliation. Without peace between religions, peace in the world is not possible."

According to the cardinal, Catholic institutions encourage religious coexistence. "We are all brothers and sisters and we need to constantly strive to live together irrespective of caste, creed, culture, language and religion.

In this context, “Education plays a key role in the shaping of the attitudes and behaviour of people, so that they realize the importance of communal harmony.” It “should help people realize that national unity and integrity of the nation should be placed high above any divisive forces and sectarian interests.”

This said, “there are so many existing challenges to national integration. They include brutality, violence, casteism, communalism, regionalism, fanaticism, religious intolerance, social and economic disparity and the vested interests of some people.”

This is why "Education for peace includes teaching youth to deal respectfully with people of other convictions, cultures and civilizations . . . It means learning to dialogue with people with whom they have conflicting interests.”

According to Card Gracias, there is no conflict between spiritual values ​​and science. “[M]odernization does not mean a refusal to recognize the importance of moral and spiritual values and self-discipline, but rather the necessity to inculcate these values.” Rather it calls for a balance “between the knowledge and skills that science and technology bring on the one hand and the values and insights associated with ethics and religion on the other hand.”

The 1986 National Policy on Education stressed that “In a culturally plural society, education should foster universal and eternal values oriented towards the unity and integration of people. Such value education should help eliminate obscurantism, religious fanaticism, violence, superstition, and fatalism.”

For its part, the Catholic Church "has always shown its commitment to the building of a new society based on justice, peace, love and harmony”. This calls for “the formation of communities of solidarity, and of justice and equality, at the service of all people, especially the poor and the marginalized.”

As Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it, "We will never win a war against terror as long as the conditions for poverty and injustice remain”.

For this reason, "our society needs a moral revolution with a renewed ethic of justice, responsibility and community. [...]. In this regard, every educational institution has the duty to educate and form the social conscience of its students on this important principle of respect for the human dignity of every person".

In the end, "Reconciliation is indispensable for the promotion of peace in society" and “The Church extols reconciliation, pardon.”

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