The big cities tempt Christians: infidelity, cohabitation with Muslims, poverty, drugs. For a Dhaka Catholic, priests should visit families more often.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Christian residents of Bangladesh’s big cities face more challenges than their village counterpart, including marriage and free religious practice, this according to couples who related their own stories at the World Meeting of Families currently underway in Dublin.
One story touches Ripon Costa, a married man with a 10-year-old son. For the past six months, he has been on his own and has no intention of returning to his family, despite his relatives who have tried to get him to reconcile with his wife.
"I am not interested in married life anymore. I want to be alone,” he told AsiaNews. “My wife keeps asking me for more money than I have."
Sukla Corraya left her husband after three years of persecution. "I was abused by my husband who was also unfaithful,” she said. “I could not keep going that way and I've been alone for 20 years.”
However, not all is negative. Some stories are about love and marital respect. This is the case of Prodip Rozario, who works for an NGO.
"When I go home after work, my wife and two children run towards me, happy to see me. We pray together every night; we share feelings and emotions."
Probha Rozario, secretary of the Commission for Family Life in the Archdiocese of Dhaka, notes that families that live in villages have more opportunities for sharing. "Every year, we organise a conference and receive positive feedback from rural families,” she explained.
In the countryside, people “pray together, attend Mass, love each other and show respect for each other. They put Christian values into practice and face fewer problems than the people who live in big cities, where Christians often do not even pray in the evening."
According to Probha Rozario, the most common challenges in the cities are "marital infidelity, lovelessness, a greater presence of migrant women more interested in money than in the affection of their husbands, conflicts between neighbours, negative media influence, poverty, drug addiction, as well as environmental and housing problems."
Regarding the housing emergency, Rozario noted that "Christians live in neighbourhoods where they are the minority, with no churches, living and going to school with Muslims. Children make friends and often marry people of different religions. All this weakens the faith."
Probha Rozario runs pre-marital courses and works with Caritas Bangladesh. For her, it is urgent "for priests to change behaviour and visit parish families continuously."
"Pastoral outreach helps a lot,” she explained. “If priests and nuns did this, families would have fewer hardships. Those living in poverty need support; drug addicts need love and care."