10/15/2016, 14.53
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Indian bishop: Tomorrow prayer for peace with the neighboring countries of India

by Thomas Menamparampil

On the eve of the Day of Prayer for Peace, Msgr. Menamparampil remembers the violence and the feeling of helplessness. From Europe to Asia, there are many sources of tension. "No one really comes out winner” in a war. But prayer, warns, has great power and “it can give a direction to the course of events”.


Delhi (AsiaNews) - The history of war teaches that "no one really comes out winner" from conflict and who gain "are only the manufacturers of weapons". For this it is necessary to renew the call for peace and prayer, because "collective foment tensions can be fatal." So it says in an appeal sent to AsiaNews, Mgr. Thomas Menamparampil, apostolic administrator of Jowai (in Meghalaya) and former Archbishop of Guwahati (Assam), on the eve of the day of prayer for India scheduled for tomorrow, October 16.

An initiative launched by Cardinal Cleemis, president of the Bishops' Conference of India, and that it intends to defuse the tensions in the border with Pakistan and the outbreaks of violence present in all of Asia. Christians to the entire Indian population the task of being a "bridge" with other cultures and nations of the continent.

Here, below, the message of Msgr. Menamparampil:

Unfortunately the Year of Mercy has been disturbed by too many instances of violence in different parts of the world: Paris, Toulouse, Normandy, and on the India borders. Whatever be the cause of these very painful incidents, we can clearly see that we are not yet reaching the end of the Road of Violence. We feel a measure of helplessness before this immense problem. “Because I was helpless, the Lord helped me,” says the Psalmist.

It is in this context that I consider it most timely that Cardinal Cleemis, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of India, has called for prayers on October 16th, with special reference to the tensions on the Indian borders. This strengthens the request that Cardinal Oswald, the President of the Asian Bishops’ conferences, made on October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis, asking for prayers for Indian and Pakistan. Here we have the voice of India and the whole of Asia together.

Cardinal Cleemis has also placed his appeal in relationship to some of the sacred events of other religious communities. Peace is for all, and all need to join hands together to ensure harmony and common wellbeing. 

The history of great wars tells us that nobody is the gainer by a serious conflict. On the contrary, the loss is universal. The poor suffer most in every case. The leaders who use aggressive language and provoke  tension for political gains, bring disasters on millions...of their own people and others. The only gainers are arms-producers. The war machinery is blind, and once set in motion, is hard to control. Anger, once kindled, is not easy to be put out. Rousing collective emotions is fatal.

Martha Nussbaum in her recent book Political Emotions (Harvard 2013) argues that “Love matters for Justice.” Her contention is that political thinkers have only drawn up “political principles”, leaving the handling of “political emotions” and collective anger to the care of religious leaders and poetic personalities. So, it was a prophetic gesture on Cardinal Cleemis’ and Cardinal Oswald’s part to call for prayer. 

Though Christians form only a small minority in India, prayer has power.... and it can give a direction to the course of events and to the progress of history. The very call for prayer brings sober thinking to millions.

Northeast India, unlike other parts of the country, touches four neighbouring nations with similar cultures: Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. We would like to be a bridge between the peoples of India, China and Southeast Asia than be a landmass that keeps these nations at a distance. Our prayer on October 16th will be that Asia be spared of wars between neighbouring countries, the like of which Europe experienced in the most tragic manner in the previous century. When we pray for Asia, we really mean to pray for the world.


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