12/12/2013, 00.00
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For Indian Priest, Evangelii Gaudium challenges the people of Mumbai

by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr Aniceto Pereira, vice rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra, talks about Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation. Calling the pope, the "John the Baptist or our generation," he highlights the pontiff's critique of today's culture and economy, which closely touch the Indian city, caught as it is between " glitzy wealth and poverty that kills, spiritually as well."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium "addresses the struggles, concerns and challenges that affect the physical, emotional and spiritual survival of the people of Mumbai," said Fr Aniceto Pereira, vice rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount (Mount Mary Church) in Bandra, the mainly Catholic neighbourhood in the Indian metropolis. For the clergyman, "The exhortation's second chapter refers to our situation," and makes the Holy Father the "John the Baptist of our generation."

"In glitzy Mumbai, poverty kills through hunger and malnutrition," Fr Pereira said. "The growing gap between rich and poor is a matter of great concern, and poverty-related deaths are not a rarity, but can be counted in their thousands. This is immoral."

Physical survival, he added, also touches the city's housing crisis. "The poorest live in shacks. The absence of hygiene, sanitation, drinking water and the presence of waste everywhere intensify the poor's health problems and threaten to turn them into 'urban waste'."

"Other neighbourhoods," he went on to say, "were built with an ideal of protection and ' exclusivity', but they lack a spirit of integration so people who do not 'fit' ' are removed."

"To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed," the Pope writes in the Joy of the Gospel.

From the point of view of "emotional survival", the vice rector of Mount Mary church noted, "a new culture has developed, made up of long working hours, absenteeism from home and the family, and increasing amounts of discretionary income. This culture, however, is not always based on values, and this results in human trafficking, exploitation of children, neglect of the elderly and the infirm, and corruption."

Last but not least, the city is in the throes of "a great spiritual crisis. Relativism is rampant, as evidenced by divorce, a culture of co-habitation and attacks against the culture of life: abortion, suicide, attacks on women, neglect of the elderly, the vulnerability of girls and the unborn, artificial insemination and surrogacy. To fill the void left by such secular rationalism, people are increasingly relying on new religious movements and New Age ideologies."

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