10/22/2013, 00.00
NEPAL
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Hindu outcastes find comfort in Pope Francis and the Bible

by Kalpit Parajuli
A growing number of non-Christians are drawn to Catholicism because of the principles of equality and dignity upheld by the Church. Reading the Bible and Pope Francis' words are playing a crucial role in this, as they did on World Mission Sunday. Forced to change her surname to escape persecution, a convert tells her story.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Reading of the Bible and Pope Francis' message on World Mission Sunday (20 October) provide a "strong impetus to fight social inequality and injustice" in Nepal.

The rising number of non-Catholics attending Sunday Mass is a token of that, local priests told AsiaNews. The same goes for the number of young people who undertake the catechumenate, drawn by the message of equality and human dignity announced by the Catholic Church.

Last Sunday, more than 500 people attended Mass in Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral. The parish priest, Fr Robin Rai, read the Holy Father's message, asking everyone present, Catholics and non-Catholics, to proclaim the Word of God to the members of their communities.

Worshippers who attended the service found the pope's words for World Mission Sunday perfectly suited to the needs of Nepal, a country where many people suffer daily discrimination and oppression. Many of them also pledged to print and spread the papal message in their workplace.

"I converted to Catholicism eight years ago, because I found no discrimination in this religion," said Rita Adhikari, a member of Nepal's lowest caste. "All human beings are equal and should be treated in the same way, irrespective of caste, colour or social class," the mother of three told AsiaNews.

In view of the discrimination she had to endure, she opted to change his name. "My real name is Biswakarma," she explained. "For Nepali Hindus, it indicates the lowest caste. To them, we are 'untouchable'."

"To escape persecution, we first moved to Kathmandu, the capital, believing that things would be different. But even here, we had problems. We were not allowed to use public water facilities, or rent a room. My daughter's Hindu schoolmates shunned her. Eventually, we changed our name to Adhikari, so that people would not be able to figure out easily our background."

 

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