Cardinal Gracias: the struggle of the Church in India for human development threatens the extremists
by Nirmala Carvalho
Re-elcted for another two years as President of the Indian Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop of Mumbai calls the Catholic Church an "inalienable part of the nation". False allegations of forced conversions and the violence of Hindu nationalists "intensify our faith and push us to enhance our engagement" among the poor, the marginalized, Dalits, girls and women.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – "When the Church fights the system’s injustices, frees people and works tirelessly to relieve their pain, [it] represents a threat to extremist groups, which react with violence and attacks. But strengthened by the Gospel, we continue to serve our neighbor." So said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, during the 30th General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), currently being held in Bangalore (1-8 February). Yesterday, the cardinal was re-elected as President of the CBCI for another two-year term. Discussing the theme of the Assembly, "The role of the Church for a better India", the cardinal added: "The Catholic Church, as an inalienable part of the nation, must be involved in social development and human transformation. Life in fullness means that every human being is free from all forms of oppression and dehumanizing situations, and is treated with dignity and honor."
Commenting to AsiaNews on the repeated cases of anti-Christian violence occurring in several Indian states, the Archbishop of Mumbai said: "The bright light of the Gospel is clearly visible in the Catholic Church's involvement in the empowerment and social transformation of the poor, the needy, the marginalized, and the voiceless. This has caused discomfort and has evoked responses of fabricated and baseless ‘conversion allegations’ and attacks on our personnel and institutions."
"The vibrancy of the Gospel and the Catholic Church in India," he explained, "has brought about a remarkable transformation in the social outcasts, the poorest of the poor, Dalits and the tribal women and girls of the country. Through our mission, people are aware of their rights and their duties. Thanks to our educational services, the people know how to critically analyze the constraints that they are subjected to. And every anti-Christian incident, against the clergy, faithful or institutions, only serves to strengthen our faith and improve our commitment. It urges us to ensure that all individuals, without discrimination of caste, creed, language or ethnicity, become more fully human".
For cardinal Gracias, "although the Catholic Church is not more than 3% of the total population, it continues to make a significant contribution to nation-building. With our schools and our educational institutions, we are committed to bringing ethics into public life and the economy."