Catholic religious’ forum pledges to defend Indian Constitution

By Matters India Reporter

Guwahati, March 1, 2019: The , known as “FORUM, has pledged its unconditional support to the defense of the Indian Constitution facing threats from religious fundamentalism.

The forum, an advocacy group for progressive religious nuns, brothers and priests in, also resolved to play a prophetic role the Catholic Church and society to promote human rights, justice and peace -particularly of the poor, the marginalized.

The forum recently organized a national workshop to take a close look at in the Indian Constitution and seek ways to defend the values enshrined in it.

They issued a statement on February 28:

Forum for Justice and Peace National Workshop on ‘In Defence of the Indian Constitution’ Statement ‘

We, 63 members of the Forum for Justice and Peace (FORUM) and a few of our associates, gathered from all over India, at the NEDSSS, Guwahati for the National Workshop on the theme, “In Defence of the Indian Constitution” (February 23-25) deliberated on the vision and core values of the Indian Constitution.

We journeyed together convinced that in the context of the realities that have gripped the Church and society in India today, we have no option but to respond proactively to the challenges of our times, as women and men deeply rooted in the person, message and mission of Jesus.

During the three days together, we listened to resource persons who challenged us on the different dimensions of the Constitution, shaking us out of our complacency and comfort zones. We reflected on the vision and the values that are enshrined in the Constitution, the stranglehold of religious fundamentalism that threatens to compromise its premises, the pro-corporate and anti-people economic policies that dilute the rights embodied in it, the role of the media in defending the Constitution and the struggles of the minorities, marginalized and other sub-altern groups in the country.

Besides several other concerns, our journey together has enabled us:
• To pledge our unconditional defence of the Indian Constitution; to mainstream the values enshrined, particularly those in the Preamble; to protect and promote the rights of all
• To implement the call of Pope Francis in his message for ‘World Day of Peace 2019’: to engage in the political process for good governance and sustainable peace
• To renew the mandate we have: that is to play our prophetic role both in the Church and society; to be visible and vocal in our stand for human rights, justice and peace -particularly of the poor, the marginalized, the minorities, the Dalits, the Adivasis/Tribals, the children and women of our country
• To call upon our bishops, Religious superiors and all those involved in positions of leadership in the Church, to be faithful to the teachings of the Church especially the exhortations and encyclicals of Pope Francis, the statements of the CBCI and the CRI, and the final conclusions of our recent General/Provincial Chapters
• To accompany our Adivasis/Tribals/Forest dwellers, in every way possible, in their struggle against eviction from forest lands and the denial of their legitimate rights
• To support all victims of sexual abuse, of children and vulnerable adults; to ensure greater gender sensitivity at every level and not to become agents of a patriarchal Church and society
• To uphold the work of human rights defenders and join them wherever possible
• To network, collaborate and synergise with all, especially the Civil Society groups concerned about the challenges of our times. We shall join hands with them and keep our institutional spaces open to them.

In professing our love and loyalty to the Church and to our country, we are motivated by the words of Jesus, “Fear no one”. Above all, we are inspired by his unequivocal “No” to the privileges, power and possessions when tempted by Satan. This same attitude prompts our choices today.

Finally, we pledge, that beginning with ourselves, we shall leave no stone unturned, to help build a Church and a nation that are imbued by the spirit of justice and peace as enshrined in our Constitution and in the Gospel of Jesus.

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