Inter-religious harmony, hatred

By Nithiya Sagayam

It is good to hear that Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has spoken about the need for non-violence and harmony in society.

There is lot more to be done in India on the concerns of inter-religious dialogue now that ever in this country.

While there is growing hate propaganda all over the country, there seems to be a determined silence, may be out of fear or ignorance. Majority of those who enter into religious violence are common people who are instigated by others behind.

Long years back, the inter-religious commissions were in constant dialogue, meeting not only on the stage but in the violence stricken places and places of communal clashes to settle the disputes.

The seminarians and other formation centres of religious congregations focused a lot on this need for inter-religious amity. Each diocesan dialogue team was active and was also in touch with the socio-political leaders.

Of late, the interreligious dialogue commissions have become almost speechless, action-less and focus-less. It is time that each diocese and each religious province revamps the interreligious commissions and initiate deeper dialogues, collaborations and lay interreligious leaders’ involvements into common projects for social welfare and also interreligious visibility.

We have already witnessed interreligious hatred in large scale everywhere. There are hate materials in social media almost every day. There are determined individuals and groups involved in interreligious hatred. But the Church at large seems to be very negligent in taking up pro-active strategies in responding to the signs of the times.

It is a pity that we are still in firefighting strategies – interreligious gatherings during Christmas, Ramadan, and Diwali. This is only a beginning. There is a long way to go.

We, Christians, are a negligible minority and we are nowhere except for some educational and health institutions which are also under threat. Unless we come on the street level interreligious harmony, we would be sacrificing our people as already happened in Kandhamal district of Odisha, Eastern India.

Even the formation centers and seminaries seem to give little importance to interreligious studies, and interreligious undertakings. If this is the case, what sort of future leaders – priests and nuns – would we be getting in this country in which minorities are struggling even just to survive?

Axe is laid already. It is time to wake up from our forced silence? Anyone listening?

November 1, 2018

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