Bishops launch website to encourage marriages among the castes

The link dedicated to young people accessible through site of the Office for Disadvantaged castes of the Episcopal Conference. In India there are 12 million Catholic Dalits, or 60% of the faithful.

Bangalore (AsiaNews / Matters India) - The Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI) is launching a website to encourage intermarriage among castes. The initiative comes from the bishop’s  Office for Scheduled Castes and Backward Castes. The link to the section encouraging marriage is at . For the bishops, the goal is to counter discrimination against the Dalits and to overcome the caste mentality that wants to keep them at the margins of society in order to perpetuate acquired privileges.

The website was presented at the Indian Social Institute in Bangalore during a two-day seminar (February 20-21). Participants discussed how to implement the Dalit emancipation policy, approved by the Bishops' Conference in December 2016. At least 110 people were present, including diocesan and regional secretaries of the disadvantaged caste commission. They undertook to implement the action plan in 174 Indian Catholic dioceses.

Fr. Z. Devasagaya Raj, the national secretary of the Office, stressed that "encouraging inter-caste marriages is one of the recommendations of the Cbci dalit policy". The website, he added, "will help young people find life partners who want to go beyond caste mentality. At the same time, even non-Dalits who do not believe in the caste division system will be able to find their partner thanks to the site".

According to the 2011 census, in India the former "untouchable" represent about 60% of the total number of the Catholic faithful, that is 12 million out of 19 million, while they count for  about 27.8 million Christians in total (2% of the population of the Union composed of almost 1.3 billion inhabitants).

The Dalits, who have always been on the margins of society, were also the main victims of the ferocious sectarian persecution in the Kandhamal district of Orissa. On that occasion, in August 2008, Hindu fundamentalists struck the Christians of the district, mostly belonging to tribal caste and dalit, and all those who worked to improve the living conditions of the oppressed population.