10/01/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Mgr. Menamparampil: Gandhi a man of peace, in the footsteps of Jesus Christ

by Nirmala Carvalho
On October 2, we mark 140 years since the birth of Mahatma, and the International Day of Non-violence. The prelate emphasizes his message of peace and the "courage" that derives from "Truth". On October 5 he will be in Orissa for three days of meetings with young people, to promote inter-religious dialogue and harmony.

Guwahati (AsiaNews) - In an era marked by "growing" conflicts in "our beloved land," as in "many parts of the world," today more than ever there is a need to promote the "powerful message of non-violence" or " Ahimsa, as the Father of the nation called it”. These are the words of Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop of Guwahati and author of the meditations of Pope's Via Crucis at the Coliseum to mark the 140 years since the birth of Mahatma Gandhi tomorrow 2 October,  which is also International Day of Non-violence.

Archbishop Menamparampil shares with AsiaNews his reflections on the figure of Gandhi, his message of peace and the teachings of Jesus Christ, which Mahatma acknowledged in his civil struggle for the independence of India and its people: "Intolerance, ethnic conflicts, economic interests, political violence and terrorism - says the prelate - are sadly common in every corner of the world, which is why today more than ever we need to promote the powerful message of non-violence," which Gandhi borrowed "from Jesus Christ", making it his own "in public life and politics".  He was able to mobilize "the people of India to take up the challenge to freedom in a non-violent way" and in this "he was influenced by the teachings of Christ." One route later followed by Martin Luther King, who fought for the “civil rights of blacks in America" in a "peaceful way".

Last year, the archbishop of Guwahati spoke of Mahatma on the occasion meditation on the Stations of the Cross of the Pope, because he saw the "courage" of the "Truth" that comes from choosing the "right path" the "correct way to solve problems".   "The peaceful, but at the same time, profoundly effective tactics of 'Satyagraha' - the prelate comments, referring to non-violent struggle - and its various components, civil disobedience and peaceful non-cooperation won independence for India from a foreign power". Gandhi showed "enormous courage" and a "boundless fortitude" in the face of "an enemy whom he respected, I think, a wonderful example of a man who walks in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, whose teachings Gandhi often quoted. A picture of Christ adorned the wall behind his desk".

Mgr. Menamparampil is also strongly committed to resolving conflicts and restoring peace among the ethnic groups of the north-east of the country, thanks to his studies in anthropology. The prelate says that India has imported "ideologies and philosophies of conflict", born of "extremist ideas" that do not belong to the culture and sensitivity of the country and its people. For this the role of Church in India is even more important.  It must be engaged in "building bridges of peace, understanding and harmony" through dialogue, tolerance and hope, as well as solidarity and charity.

On 5 October, the prelate will visit Kandhamal in Orissa, the scene of the anti-Christian pogrom that last year claimed hundreds of victims, the city authorities have entrusted him the organization of a three-day meeting for 200 young people in the district, to discuss " peace, harmony, mutual understanding and collaboration for the common good. "

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