Indian Catholic Bishops Denounce Hindu Nationalism,Path of self Annihilation
The Indian conference of Catholic bishops has issued a strongly worded statement condemning a “dangerous” new nationalism based on religious uniformity and appealing for greater respect for the country’s religious diversity
At the conclusion of their biennial plenary meeting held from February 2-9 in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, the bishops released a final statement warning a wrong-headed nationalism could only lead India on a path of self-destruction.
“Any attempt to promote nationalism based on any one particular culture or religion is a dangerous position,” the bishops stated. “It may lead to uniformity but never to genuine unity. Such misconceived efforts can only lead our nation on the path of self-annihilation.”
“Mono-culturalism has never been and can never be the right answer to the quest for peace, progress and development, especially in a country like ours that has a rich diversity of culture, language, region, race and religion,” the bishops declared, while adding that violence “always recoils upon the violent sooner or later.”
The bishops’ report follows on a spate of violent Hindu attacks on Christians and other religious minorities, including efforts by mobs of young Hindus to perform so-called “patriotic rituals” on the grounds of Catholic colleges, notably involving the personification of “Mother India.”
“We deplore the rising incidence of atrocities against women, killings, caste rivalries and communal violence which includes attacks on Christian institutions and communities,” the bishops said. “Therefore, let us follow the path of true nationalism that can lead our motherland to true peace, harmony, progress and prosperity.”
“Authentic nationalism respects the human dignity of every citizen, regardless of one’s economic status, culture, religion, region or language,” they added, while urging a return to “the rule of law guaranteed by our Indian Constitution.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the newly elected president of the Indian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that growing religious intolerance threatens the peace and well-being of all Indians.
“Intolerance is causing a certain amount of anxiety to us,” Cardinal Gracias said at a press conference in Bangalore following the meeting of the Indian bishops.
“Diversity is one of the strengths of India. It is known world over for its diversity of culture, language and religion. Any attempt to divide people by certain sections will be harmful for the nation,” the cardinal said.
Violence against religious minorities by radicalized Hindu groups has increased dramatically since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power four years ago.
India experienced 736 incidents of violence against Christians during 2017, more than double the number of attacks the prior year, according to the latest report from the ecumenical forum “Persecution Relief,” dedicated to tracking Christian persecution in India.
In response to accusations by Hindu radicals that Christians are loyal to foreign powers, the bishops asserted that the Christian faith in India is as old as Christianity itself.
“The Church in India received the gift of faith through St. Thomas, the Apostle of Jesus,” the statement declares.
“We want to emphatically affirm that the Christian faith in India is as old as Christianity. India is what it is today … due to the contribution of the Church in India,” it reads.
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