By Matters India Reporter
Pune: The Association of Catholic Historians of India (ACHI) has chosen to deliberate on the contribution of missionaries for nation building for its forthcoming annual conference in Bangalore, next June.
“The right-wing Hindu organizations such as RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the pro-Hindu BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) with their hidden and malicious agenda seek to destroy the contribution of Christian missionaries in India. That is exactly the problem we are facing for longer. Many a time the work of Christian missionaries is interpreted negatively. We need to put them in the right perspective,” Divine Word Father Rayappan Jesuraj, a member of the executive council of ACHI, told Matters India.
Father Jesuraj, professor of church history at Papal Seminary-Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, is an author as well. He has decades of teaching church history in many major seminaries and institutes in India. He was also dean and principals of a few theology seminaries in the country.
“We chose the theme on the contribution of missionaries for nation building because there is a general feeling that either the missionaries did little for Indian culture and language or destroyed it entirely, which is not the fact,” he added.
The chief minister of India’s Jharkhand state, Raghubar Das, who heads the state government led by the pro-Hindu BJP, recently accused Christian missionaries of working to keep the tribal stronghold poor. Christian leaders and historians deny the charge saying he was trying to cover up his government’s lapses ahead of state elections.
“Such allegations and perceptions made by pro-Hindu leaders and organizations have to be corrected with facts and well researched scholarly papers,” Father Jesuraj said.
During the meeting, several well-researched papers by a wide range of scholars will be presented and discussed.
According to sources, Father Bernard Ardura, O. Praem of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences from the Vatican is likely to attend the conference.
The ACHI is an association of Catholic historians, scholars, and researchers consisting of clergy and lay. It has more than 60 members. It is two years old.