Mangalore, 30 thousand at the gathering of the Church for 'loyalty to the Constitution and faith'
The united initiative of the three rites of the Indian Episcopal Conference - Latin, Syro-Malabarese and Syro-Malankarese. Request for the institution of a public feast on 8 September, the Nativity of Our Lady. Bishop of Puttur: "Our emotions are always with our country and our faith is always with one God who unites us and teaches us to love".
Mangalore (AsiaNews) - At least 30,000 faithful participated in the gathering organized by the Indian Catholic Church in Mangalore, Karnataka, to reaffirm their "loyalty to India, to the Constitution and the Christian faith".
The assembly was held yesterday in Madanthyar (about 50 km east of Mangalore). The initiative is one of the three rites of the Indian Bishops' Conference - Latin, Syro-Malabarese and Syro-Malankarese - which at the end of the event asked the government to declare on September 8 a public holiday, the day on which the Nativity of Mary is celebrated .
The rally was named "Catholic Maha Samavesha-2020". The participants gave birth to a long "unity procession" that started from the city center to the front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of representatives of the Catholic communities were present.
Bishops participating included Msgr. Peter Paul Saldanha, bishop of Mangalore; Msgr. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, of the Syro-Malankara diocese of Puttur; Msgr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy, of the Syro-Malabar diocese of Beltangady.
The assembly falls in a historic period marked by political and religious turmoil, after the approval of the new citizenship law by the Indian Parliament. The legislation has sparked heated debate because it excludes the Islamic minority from the request for naturalization. Several Catholics have also taken sides against "blatant discrimination that threatens to divide the country" and at the same time reaffirm their adherence to the secular values of the state.
In the inaugural speech, Msgr. Saldanha highlighted: “We are Indians. In Mangaluru, we have a 450-year history of living peacefully, respectfully, and not doing any harm to others as followers of Jesus Christ. We believe in the goodness in humans and we always give priority for humanity in our private and social life. At the same time, we believe in our Constitution. We live for our country. Fr Jerome D’Souza who also worked with Dr B R Ambedkar, [among the fathers of the nation, of Dalit origins - ed.] has contributed during the preparation of the Constitution."
Archbishop Mar Divannasios explained: “We are eligible for all kinds of facilities given to us by our Constitution. We are known for social service and harmony. With this Samavesha, we are announcing that we are not the people who will fall easily. Our emotions are always with our country and our faith is always with one God who brings us all together and teaches us to love. We are united with India which has a Constitution that emphasizes unity in diversity.”
For Msgr. Mukkuzhy, the meeting was organized precisely with the aim of " We are united with Jesus and the Catholic faith. We reflect the teachings of Jesus. He teaches us humanity. Without humanity there is no meaning to religion. Humanity is our faith which is centered on Jesus,” he explained. Syro-Malabar bishop also asserted Catholics are “cent percent” Indian citizens. “We are in the forefront when it comes to our contribution in the fields of education and health. No one can neglect this with silly allegations and reasons. There are ministers in all governments, sportspersons in all sports fields, educationalists, scientists and intellectuals who studied in Christian management institutions. The prelate denied the allegations from some radical groups that Catholics indulged in conversion. “We respect all religions and accept their faiths. As citizens of India and hardcore lovers of this country, we will continue our social service. No one can stop us from this,” he added.