Msgr. Machado: Assisi is a ray of light amid the darkness of violence
by Nirmala Carvalho
The archbishop of Vasai has spoken to the South Asian Symposium on the Social Doctrine of the Church with a report on "Interreligious dialogue is essential to meet the challenges of materialism and secularism in Asia," in view of Assisi 2011.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The name of God must be more and more what it is: a name of peace and a call to peace, and "people of faith can not remain passive in the face of a world that is torn apart by hatred and violence", said Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, and Chairperson for the Office for CBCI Interreligious Dialogue, he outlined the meaning of the pilgrimage for peace that Benedict XVI has called for October 27 to the city of Saint Francis. The prelate gave a speech entitled: "Interreligious dialogue is essential to meet the challenges of materialism and secularism in Asia" at the South Asian Symposium held in Mumbai October 14 to 16 on the Social Doctrine of the Church.

"The phenomenon of globalization has brought materialism at our doorsteps. The ethos of consumerism often asserts itself as a secularising force in society. The hegemony of global consumer culture requires the relocation of a society’s religious traditions to the private sphere," said the prelate, who is president of the Office for Interreligious Dialogue of the Bishops' Conference of India. But this trend is not unrelated to the emergence of phenomena such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Hindutva.

"The secularising power of global consumerist culture pushes religion to a private sphere. This is resisted by religious people and this resistance to the privatisation of religion often takes the form of a resurgent, militant assertion of religious value and identity" said Msgr. Machado. Secularization, however, also touches on another aspect: " The phenomenon of globalization which is being imposed without respect to solidarity among all peoples must become a serious concern for all believers ", but at the same time, the positive aspects of the process of globalization cannot be discounted. "The good thing is that now we have several means of providing humanitarian assistance to our brothers and sisters in need ... The concern for neighbour transcends national borders and has expanded its horizons to the whole world."

Msgr. Machado recalls the prophetic intuition of Pope John Paul II in calling all the faithful of the world to Assisi in 1986. " The World Day of Prayer for Peace has been and will ever remain unique event; in that sense, it is unrepeatable. But it is an open-ended event; its spirit intends to encourage further initiatives to build bridges of friendship across religious boudaries on local and grass-root levels throughout the world in order to inspire ‘culture of dialogue and peace’ ". In this context it is necessary that the "Spirit of Assisi" is well understood, and followed carefully so that there is no danger of syncretism or relativism. " While ‘spirit of Assisi’ encourages genuine and serious dialogue among religions, relativism and syncretism should be considered arch enemies of that dialogue"

Since 1986 many things have changed: "The appalling events which shook the world at the very beginning of the third millennium sowed seeds of violence and hatred, and broke the spell of a society which saw itself as advanced and free, but yet in an instant found itself fragile, divided and theatened, "said Msgr. Machado. " It it is in this context of the precarious character of our world that the significance of the daring and prophetic gesture of Blessed John Paul II must be understood." And even now "may the symbol of Assisi, as a ray of hope, continue to remain strong in the memory of all people and may the ‘spirit of Assisi’ as a ray of light, continue to illumine the world which is marked by the darkness of hatred and violence. "