06/02/2020, 10.39
INDIA
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Card. Gracias: Caesar and God, the limits of absolutism

by Nirmala Carvalho

In today's homily, the Archbishop of Mumbai highlights the relationship between the state and the Church, in a difficult time due to the lockdown and the many attacks on religious freedom. "Not everything belongs to Caesar, not everything belongs to the state". "Some things belong to God. This is the beginning of human rights, the value of the individual, the value of the human person." Card. Gracias assures Narendra Modi: We pray for you at all our masses.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God", the phrase of Jesus in today's Gospel (Mark 12, 13-17), "changed man’s way of thinking. It gave official value to governments and states for the first time, but it also placed a limit on absolutism."

These were the reflections of Card. Oswald Gracias as he highlighted the relationship between the State and the Church in his homily at morning mass live streamed because of the pandemic.

The online masses of the cardinal, president of the Indian bishops' conference (CBCI), have a large audience in the English-speaking world. The messages and letters from spectators arriving at the office of the archdiocese of Mumbai arrive from all over the world.

At present, the relationship between the State and the Church in India is not easy: with Narendra Modi's government attacks have grown on Christian people and institutions, attributed to Hindu nationalist groups, who are supporters of Modi and his BJP party (Bharatiya Janata Party).

"Render to Caesar the things of Caesar - explained card- Gracias - is giving the government a license of holiness: it has an authority that comes from God, but this also has limits. Not everything belongs to Caesar; some things belong to God. This is the beginning of human rights, the value of the individual, the value of the human person. We are therefore in a situation in which to understand the difference between Caesar and God, in which there are two different 'competences' ".

The authority to Caesar, he later explained, was given by God, "in the wisdom of God they are our leaders and need our help, our prayer".

The cardinal then said that the past Indian premier, Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked him once if it was true that we pray for him every Sunday. He continued: “I told him that it is true, that at the prayer of the faithful every Sunday we pray for him". The cardinal also said this to Prime Minister Modi: "We pray for you regularly at masses".

“Our government deserves our loyalty. That's why I asked everyone to follow the lockdown rules. They are there our safety and for that of others and the whole nation. "

"The second principle - he explained - is that "not everything belongs to Cesar, not everything belongs to the state. There are things that belong to God. On our heart there is the seal of God, we are made in the image of God; our hearts, our souls belong to God. Therefore, this loyalty to God is essential."

"We must have wisdom, prudence, intelligence to understand how to give Caesar what is due to him, participating in all the responsibilities of the government, paying taxes, etc. On the other hand, we have our responsibilities in following our conscience when God is involved."

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