Fear, mistrust surges among Indians: Catholic priest

Father Charles Irudayam addressing the meet


By Matters India Reporter

Rome: The climate of fear and mistrust among people, cultures and religious communities across India is alarming, an Indian told at an International gathering in Rome, Italy.

Trends such as “populism” and “Hindu nationalism” drastically sweeping the country can pose great dangers and threats for society at large, said Father Charles Irudayam, former secretary, Office for Justice, Peace and Development, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), New Delhi.

A sense of “insecurity” and “polarization” marks India’s present political atmosphere and threatens its social fabric, said Father Irudayam, the lone Indian representative at the September 18-20 “World Conference on Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism.”

Some 200 delegates across the world are attending the event. Some 15 Asian delegates are participating in the two-day program.

Father Irudayam, parish priest at the Kalladithidal church in Sivaganga diocese of Tamil Nadu, southern India, also spoke about the internal migrant problems in India.

Hundreds of migrants from northern Indian states like Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh to work in the south continue to face discrimination, he said.

Finding cohesive and realistic responses to the phenomenon of increasing xenophobia, racism, and populist nationalism in political and social responses to migrants and refugees is the aim of a world conference.

Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the conference brings together governmental, intergovernmental, civil society, academic, religious, and ecumenical leaders from around the globe. The conference is committed to inclusive participation and to hearing the voices of migrants and refugees themselves.

The conference aims to explore how churches can give moral leadership in working together with state and civil society organisations, and inter-religious partners, to proactively address xenophobia, racism and populist nationalism in the context of global migration. It hopes to promote compassionate and constructive responses informed by Christian faith and traditions of respect for human dignity and rights, and support for international law.

In the context of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) this conference aims to explore how churches can give moral leadership in working together with state and civil society actors, and inter-religious partners to proactively address xenophobia, racism and populist nationalism in the context of global migration, and to promote compassionate and constructive responses informed by Christian faith and traditions of respect for human dignity and rights and support for international law.

Asked about the relevance of the conference, Yuli Nugrahani, a writer and social worker from Indonesia, told Matters India that the outcome of the discussions are “important and need to continue by action.”

She works for commission for justice, peace and pastoral itinerant people of Tanjungkarang diocese at Indonesia and a board member for the same commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia.

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