Bangalore: India’s Catholic bishops on Saturday demanded reservations and other concessions for Christians and Muslims of dalit origin.
Treating Christian and Muslim dalits on par with their Hindu counterparts will uphold the egalitarian spirit, and religious freedom embedded in the Indian Constitution, asserted around 180 prelates attending the 32nd biennial plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
The continued denial of reservation to Dalit Christians and Muslims is among several issues the bishops are addressing at the March 2-9 plenary at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, southern India.
The bishops spent Saturday in workshops addressing several issues the Church and society face in the country.
The bishops reaffirmed their faith in the fundamental principles and values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
They highlighted the right to profess, practice and propagate one’s faith and underlined the fundamental equality of all human beings, regardless of caste, gender, creed and status in life.
They expressed concern over certain emerging developments and growing trends in the country, which they felt are not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.
The bishops wanted a more humane and fruitful mode of dealing with the conflicts, not by force, but by an “open, free and trusting dialogue.”
The future of India most certainly depends on peace and harmony among the people of diverse religions and cultures, the bishops added.
Expressing great admiration for the inspiring lifestyle of the iconic figures of Pope Francis and Blessed Mother Teresa, the prelates called upon all members of the Church to practice greater simplicity at all levels, and in all its institutions.
They also resolved to focus greater attention on the marginalized, destitute, widows, differently abled and all those who are marginalized in society.
According to the bishops greater opportunities will be provided to the Church’s service organizations, comprising health care, education, social services and rehabilitation.
Another event of the day was the reporting of the Regional Bishops Councils’ activities to the assembly.
On Saturday, the assembly concluded the Year of the Consecrated Life with a variety of programs.
On Friday, the bishops heard a plea from Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar for support for the survivors of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in the Kandhamal district of Odisha.