The 32nd plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) concluded in Bengaluru on Wednesday and the theme was ‘Response of the Church in India to present day challenges’. The Church in India identified ‘lack of clarity on the government’s stand on intolerance amid growing fundamentalism', 'narrow, culture-based interpretation of nationalism' and the increasing saffronisation of the education system' as some of the main challenges they are facing, as reported by Zee News.
The week-long plenary of Catholic bishops also discussed the incidents of fundamentalism including the recent attack on a church in Raipur, reported The Indian Express.
An article in The Hindu, quoted the CBCI Chairman Cardinal Baselios Cleemis as saying, “There is a growing tendency of communalism and a unilateral understanding of faith and religion,” which he pointed out “was against the nature and spirit of the great diverse tradition of India.”
When probed further and asked specifically if the church viewed this as a political issue, he said, “These are social issues dragged and manipulated by politicians.” He did not name any party or politician.
Protesting over the “systemic concerted effort to manipulate the education system”, he pointed out the growing trend of not consulting the church working in rural and tribal education, over those issues. He labelled it as “saffronisation of education”, as many have, and said, “Viewing the complex reality of India through a narrow lens is dangerous.”
The Indian Express quoted the cardinal as saying, "We don’t have a clear picture from the government on the issue of intolerance. Some people sometimes say positive things and the next day we have someone saying the opposite. We don’t know what to believe. As we see it, there is a growing tendency of fundamentalism in this country which has to be stopped. This is against the nature of this great tradition."
As stated on CBCI website, the fourth day of the Plenary held at St. John’s, attended by 180 catholic bishops, saw serious deliberation over the challenges and the issues of present day India.
The bishops highlighted the right to profess, practise and propagate one’s faith underlining the fundamental equality of all human beings, regardless of caste, gender, creed and status in life, as stated in the Constitution.
They demanded to be heard, asking to be treated equal to the Hindu Dalits, so that the Christian and Muslim Dalits get reservations and all other concessions available to the Scheduled Castes.