In his morning Mass online, the Archbishop of Bombay marked the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, mentioning Pope Francis’s Amazon synod and Fr Stan Swamy, who gave his life for the cause of India’s indigenous people.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Card Oswald Gracias today celebrated the United Nations’ International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
In his morning Mass online, the Archbishop of Bombay (Mumbai) – and is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) – spoke about his participation two years ago in the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, enjoined by Pope Francis.
On that occasion, the cardinal realised that “challenges faced by Indigenous people in South America were similar to the challenges faced by Tribals in India”.
Card Gracias also spoke about Fr Stan Swamy, who gave his life for indigenous tribes in India, and mentioned the many men and women religious who work among the Adivasis (India’s tribal people):
"We are present in Bihar, Chotanagpur and Raighad, to give them hope, education, dignity and a future,” the prelate said. “But tribes around the world suffer injustice and exploitation.”
For the past three days, the CBCI has been holding webinars to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, noted Fr Nicholas Baria, executive secretary of the CBCI Tribal Affairs. Committee.
On paper, the clergyman acknowledges that “The Constitution guarantees the rights of tribal people; in practice, however, their land rights are not recognised” by the authorities.
What is more, “Development projects take place without the participation of the tribes who are not getting any benefits”.
Corporate plans, he added, are a source of distress for tribal communities, who end up displaced, with climate change compounding their misery.