10/02/2012, 00.00
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Gandhi's non-violence and the new evangelisation

by Nirmala Carvalho
Today, anniversary of the Mahatma's birth, is International Day of Non-Violence. Fr Cedric Prakash, director of the Prashant Centre for Human Rights, gives his thoughts about the "growing religious intolerance" and the role of the media. He also looks at the upcoming Synod of Bishops (7-28 October) and the "desperate" need for a new evangelisation and a society based on Gandhian values.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Today, birthday of the Mahatma Gandhi, is the International Day of Non-Violence. This year's celebration comes at time of great tensions: violence in the Arab world related to the anti-Muhammad movie, Muslim attacks against Buddhists in Bangladesh, Hindu nationalist attacks against Christians in India, and bombs against churches in Africa.

"In a context of growing religious intolerance, we are witnessing a rising level of violence, which we must address," said Fr Cedric Prakash, director of the Prashant Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.

For him, the world today has a "desperate need" to rediscover two Gandhian ideals, namely Ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (insistence on or zeal for truth). In fact, "Whatever the provocation, no one has the right to take the law into their own hands," he explained.

At the same time, mass media "have the power to provoke and incite people. In a world that is increasingly polarised because of the bad use of religion by fanatics and fundamentalists," the media, "while respecting and promoting the freedom of speech and expression everywhere, should use caution and restraint and be more sensitive."

Against the backdrop of the day dedicated to the Mahatma, the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (7-28 October) is fast approaching.

With the new evangelisation and the transmission of the Christian faith as its main themes, the gathering "should be a clarion call to all Christians to take radical and prophetic positions on the side of truth and justice, and bear witness to their faith in peaceful and non-violent ways, just as Jesus did."

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