Catholic religious to fight for India’s secular democracy

By Matters India Reporter

Ranchi: A group of Catholic priests and nuns engaged in social action at grassroots has resolved to oppose any government policy that undermines the secular character of the country’s democracy.

For this, they will collaborate with like-minded groups that want to India to continue to treat its people of different races, cultures, religious and languages equally.

Around 60 women and men belonging to 31 religious congregations and working in 13 states met at Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state, to review the current situation in the country and identify challenges to its secular, sovereign, socialist and democratic republic.

The February 17-19 convention held at Jharna Spirituality Centre addressed the theme, “Challenges to secular democracy in India today.” The participants, members of the National Forum for Justice and Peace, studied the theme from the following aspects:
• Democracy and Right to Dissent
• Democracy and Freedom of Expression
• Democracy and Religious Freedom
• Democracy and Caste based Inequalities
• Democracy and Increasing gap between the rich and poor
• Democracy and Land Rights

The meeting ended with a “Declaration for justice and peace” that charted the group’s future course of action. The participants said the convention energized them to recommit themselves for safeguarding India’s secular democracy.

“People of our secular and democratic nation are shocked to observe the sudden shift to a rigid religious nationalism forced upon by the present regime,” says the declaration.

They identified the following as challenges to India’s democracy:

• Religious nationalism based on the Hindutva fundamentalism
• Saffronization of educational system in India
• Orchestrated attacks on Dalits, Christian and Muslim minorities
• Assaulting and murdering of Dalits and Muslims with cow and beef politics
• Denial of freedom of expression
• Depriving the land rights of Tribals and Dalits
• Infiltration of RSS people into judiciary, bureaucracy and even army
• Appointment of RSS members as leaders of important government institutions
• Enactment of legislations restricting the freedom of religion
• Amendment of land rights of Tribals
• New projects like ‘Land Bank’, ‘Animal Corridor’ and ‘Industrial Corridor’ to uproot the Tribals from their native places and to strategically depriving of their indigenous status and rights
• Appointing hardcore Hindu religious leaders to the leadership of different states
• Brutal killing of journalists and human rights activists

The participants then decided to continue to study the “authentic identity” of India founded on pluralistic, socialistic, democratic and secular values. They would defend the rights of those affected by new government policies, particularly Tribals, Dalits, women, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups

They plan to conduct capacity building workshops for religious women and men in various parts of the country, especially on climate change and secularism that they said are burning issues.

The Catholic religious would also network with NGOs and people’s movements and strengthen “our common cause” for upholding human dignity and justice.

They have also reaffirmed the importance of secularism and the Constitutional values and plan to conduct programs to propagate the same in all their ministries such as education, social work, health care and formation.

They would educate people on political issues to help them exercise their franchise and elect leaders who stand for secularism and democracy.

They would strive to evolve “a prophetic spirituality in lineage with the tradition of our Biblical prophets by following closely the Jesus of Nazareth.”

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9 thoughts on “Catholic religious to fight for India’s secular democracy

  1. It is undoubtedly a welcome step in right direction which serves as an eye opener. Every true Indian should extend hand of cooperation in this noble endeavour. Actually what is happening in India on mere ground of religion is not securlar democracy,so to say. It is wrong or duplicate version of very concept called “Secular Democracy. The whole Interlligentsia of our country should know and admit that the sanctity of secular spirit of Constitution of India is being desecrated by thinking that a caste is changed or upgraded on mere ground of accepting any particular religion. It sounds childish, unjust,baseless and utterly condemnable. Long live the Mission! Long live endeavour!

  2. This, of course, is a bold step. But, for our nation to be truly democratic, there has to be internal democracy in each community. Otherwise each of them is likely to become a vote bank, totally under the control of the its leadership.
    Now, let me ask a simple question: How democratic is the Catholic Community in India. ? Is there any semblance of democracy in the Canon Laws, the Constitution of the Church? Canon 15(1) of the Eastern Canon Law states: The Christian faithful, …are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the pastors of the Church, …declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church. Canon 43 states: The bishop of the Church of Rome, … is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore, … he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.
    In fact, the Catholic Church is the role-model for any fascist movement.

  3. This meeting has correctly identified the challenges facing democracy and secularism. However, no concrete solutions seem to have been proposed.

    I also wonder why priests and religious don’t address the issue of internal democracy and religious fundamentalism within the church? After the first flush of Vatican II there has been a gradual reversion to old pious practices that have resulted in empty churches in Europe and parts of America, together with an exodus to Evangelical churches in South America.

    As for internal democracy, it just does not exist. What is happening in Kerala is only the tip of the iceberg.Late Rev D. S. Amalorpavadas was a great proponent of a democratic church, so somebody said to him that the church is not a democracy; to which he had retorted that the church was more than a democracy, it was a community, and democracy is an integral part of the same.

  4. Why no names of the any organiser or participant is mentioned in the news item, please? It appears incomplete without any names. Why to remain faceless when actions are supposed to good?

  5. Long live Indian Christians. India is a secular and democratic republic county and should be fully able to practice the Christian faith without harming by anybody.

  6. Wow o wowie!!! Now that is what is called conscientization! Kudos to those whose brainchild this was and to those who made it possible. Now all we need is to have the Bishops become more vocal. God bless the godly! And may the Godless begin to turn over a new leaf, allowing India to ever be what it was meant to be: secular, sovereign, socialist and democratic. AMEN!

  7. A good percentage of the Christian converts from non-Christian religions have not changed their names to Christian names, especially among the educated people. In reality, the percentage of the Christians in India is higher than the percentage data recorded.

    When the citizens of a democracy are dictated by their conscience in worship and religious liberty, then they are living in a secular society; but when coerced by the Government how to worship, then secularism is totally buried.

    The anti-conversion law was in six States, now one more is added; which clearly indicates that the Government of India is anti-secular.

    The President of India will flatter the great contribution given by the Christians in healthcare-education and the uplifting of the socially downtrodden people; but if a bill to sign a national anti-conversion law is placed on his table, he would be very delightfully signing the bill. That is the real nature of the current administration.

    If the Christians of India are keeping silent, then other minorities and democratic nations of the world will not come forward to keep the secularism intact in India. For the sick BJP Government plagued with all kinds of corruption charges, but offering monetary packages to the Christians to fool them, they have changed the word ” secularism ” to ” sickularism”. Let the Christians of India stand firm with the help of GOD ALMIGHTY to keep the religious liberty of India. We are believing in a Living GOD, so we will have full and final victory.

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