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    » 08/25/2011, 00.00

    NEPAL

    New anti-conversion law causing fears, forcing Church to stop catechism course

    Kalpit Parajuli

    Classes for new catechumens from other religions are postponed to further notice. Nepal’s Catholic Church was not officially represented at World Youth Day in Madrid because of the country’s tense situation.
    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s Catholic Church has postponed without explanations the catechism course it had planned for people from other religions. It was set to begin shortly. Local sources say the Church took this step back because of the proposed new penal code, which bans conversion from one religion to another.

    Because of tensions in the country, the Nepali Church has also stayed away from World Youth Day. “No youth officially represented the Church of Nepal in Madrid because of Nepal’s transitional situation,” said Chirendra Satyal, a Catholic media officer and journalist. “If anyone did attend, it was as an individual and not as a representative of Nepali Catholic youth.”

    The establishment of a secular state in 2006 gave the Catholic Church the opportunity to perform baptism and celebrate religious feast days out in the open. Greater religious freedom and the possibility to conduct public ceremonies led to more conversions.

    Each year, about 25 people are baptised. On 15 August, 30 children from the Diocese of Kathmandu had their first communion.

    According to official figures, each Sunday about 300 non-Christians, especially young Hindus and Buddhists, take part in Mass in Kathmandu’s Cathedral of the Assumption. They cannot receive the communion but, at the end of the service, the presiding priest blesses them and gives them flowers as a token of welcome.

    Anyone who so desires can register for catechism after Mass. If catechumens want, they can be baptised after completing the programme (three years for non-Christians). Before though, Catholic religious authorities must closely examine their request. In case of minors, the parents’ consent must be obtained.

    However, under the proposed new penal code that is currently before parliament, the Catholic Church and other minority confessions might end up going underground again, like during the times of the Hindu monarchy.

    For the code, any kind of communication about one’s faith to another person constitutes a form of proselytising. Penalties include fines of up to US$ 700 and five years in jail.

    If the culprit is a foreigner, he or she can be expelled from the country immediately.
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    See also

    05/10/2011 NEPAL
    Nepali Muslims ask Christians for help against Hindu extremism
    Catholics express full solidarity but Muslim leaders opt for silence. Faizan Ahmad’s widow slams her community for its fear to talk about her murdered husband’s case. Nepali Islamic Sangh President Najrul Hasan Falahi calls for “a fair and immediate investigation”. Christians are committed to minority rights.

    01/09/2011 NEPAL
    Hindu, Muslim and Christian women come out in defence of religious freedom
    During celebrations honouring Lord Shiva, Hindu women criticise proposed amendments to the penal code that would ban conversions. For them, such changes reflect the view of rightwing politicians, not all the people.

    16/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Sialkot: police charges crowd at funeral for young man killed in prison for blasphemy
    Police attack mourners during the burial ceremony. Witnesses say police used tear gas against the crowd, injuring some and arresting others. Police claims it had to move in to prevent “further disturbances”. Catholic leaders renew call for the repeal of the blasphemy laws.

    23/08/2008 NEPAL
    Umbrella organisation is created to lead young Catholic mission in Nepal
    The Nepal Catholic Youth Movement plans to coordinate activities by various youth associations, which hitherto had no common reference point. It plans a series of activities ranging from the parish level to joint projects with worldwide youth movements.

    27/06/2008 INDIA
    Some 500 Indian youth WYD bound
    The young delegates will be accompanied by 14 bishops and 80 priests and religious. Before arriving in Sydney they will experience Australia’s Catholic life staying with host families. Indian bishops are hopeful this experience will help them contribute to their country’s development.



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