Indian Church needs to rethink its relevance: Capuchin priest

By Matters India Reporter

Pondicherry, May 10, 2019: Indian Church needs a synod to search together in order to revitalize her service to God and for poor, says Capuchin Father Nithya Sagayam, a theologian and social activist.

“A new collective discernment process focusing on the roots and wings of missionary work for the poor in India is urgent. It is needed to the entire Catholic church in the country today,” Father Sagayam told Matters India, May 10.

Amid the growing challenges of daily life and the velocity of changes taking place in the minds of persons and society at large, all the Conference of Religious Congregations of India (CRI) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), need to discern their updated prophetic response through a thorough discernment process, he said.

Prophetic response to the daily socio-pastoral, economic, political and cultural challenges of the country by rootedness is needed through the tradition of the suffering servant of God, he explained. Through this, Church in India would recommit her efforts towards the people, especially the poorest of the poor.

Presently he is the coordinator of the Association of Franciscan Families in India (AFFI) and also the director of Bl. Solanus Casey Animation Centre in Villupuram near Pondicherry in South India.

According to him, “the corporate sectors seem to have developed their response to the signs of the times in the secular society very well for their ultimate gains while the Church at large, with good intentions seem to be stagnant or going backward. She needs to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who vibrates the members to relive the charismatic and prophetic model of Jesus model. This will be far removed from the present methods of running economy based institutions, competing with each other and following just the corporate business models.”

He served as executive secretary of CBCI – Justice, Peace and Development office and Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences – Office for Human Development for some years.

“Today most Religious Congregations have become ‘baby sitters’ of the moneyed and elite classes while forgetting their prophetic option for the poorest and the marginalized. This is why, most Religious Congregations in India, even though have different charisms, seems to have ended up in these years, with just one activity running institutions – English medium schools that mostly caters to middle class and above,” he said.

“The energy of the Catholic Church in the country seems to have shifted from apostolate to institutions. Every third person in India is living below poverty line. And more than half of the Catholics are poor and discriminated background. More than 70% of the Catholics are from rural areas. Almost all the priests and nuns from India are from these villages. But unfortunately their shift these years is towards towns and cities and most of the priests and nuns are so much occupied with institutions that they are unavailable for regular family visits, motivating them to face life’s challenges. Knowing these discrepancies the evangelical groups continually visit the Catholics and the sheep stealing is in full swing,” he added.

According to the priest, “The seminars and conferences leading to concrete action plans need to have monitoring mechanism for effective outcome. The powerful body of committed priests and Religious of India are very well trained for several years. They are very capable of waking up themselves and the Catholics of this country and the society at large towards total effectiveness.

“It is high time that the CBCI, Conference of Diocesan Priests of India (the association of diocesan priests established by the Conference of CBCI and and the Conference of Religious India (CRI) propose a nationwide synod or council to update our relevance today to our Catholic people, most of who are still below poverty line in the country, and of course to the society at large” he said.

The CRI has more than 334 congregations and over 822 major superiors representing more than 125,000 Catholic Religious brothers, priests and nuns in India.

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3 thoughts on “Indian Church needs to rethink its relevance: Capuchin priest

  1. The word Synod means walking together. Without competent laity such an exercise would be a walk in the dark

  2. The speaker could begin with his own congregation, the Capuchins, who have long lost their Franciscan charism, and now running English medium schools.

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