The Church in India is definitely polarized. The issues that divide them are not necessarily new. The Dalit issues, liturgical controversies, financial malpractices, sexual abuse, clericalism and so on. The list is familiar.
With a vibrant social media, the polarization is reaching more and many more are taking sides. Just two instances. Recently I wrote a piece in Matters of India on the growing Islamophobia (September 14, 2021).
One of the readers wrote, ‘Not a single Christian has done any kind of violence or discrimination against Muslim… the people who defend Christians are well read, well-traveled and not some naïve Christian priest from village…please do not publish such LKG level leftist stuff of Jesuits who are far removed from reality?”
Another wrote: ‘thanks for attempting to be a corrective force and speaking out when so many appalled church leaders are silent to preserve unity?
A baffling message that is making rounds is a birthday greeting to the Prime Minister of India by a bishop. He wishes happy birthday to a prime minister who is gaining respect all over the world as a man of vision, brilliant governance, and leading the world.
In contrast, Thomas L. Friedman, writing recently in the New York Times said, India which once was a model of a promising democracy, ‘unfortunately, today, Indian nationalism based on pluralism is being weakened by Hindu supremacists in the ruling BJP party, who seem hell bent on converting a secular India, into a ‘Hindu Pakistan as Ram Chandra Guha once put it.’
It doesn’t seem to matter to the bishop that, ‘in the latest 2020 Democracy Index global ranking released on February 3, India slipped two places to 53rd (out of 167 countries), its overall score fell from 6.9 the previous year to 6.6, and classified India as a “flawed democracy” along with countries including the US, France, Belgium and Brazil.
What we speak about matters
One of the ways to assess our fidelity to the core mission as Christians is to look at what we are talking about. The Church in India is busy discussing love jihad, narcotic jihad, liturgical issues, institutional concerns, community interests and other self-aggrandizing topics. This is, of course, not to discount the vast amount of charitable works being done and reported about by Church related agencies. Unfortunately, they do not get the attention they deserve.
In contrast, listen to what the world is talking about. Just for example, it is about Afghanistan, that every third Afghan is going hungry. It is about Brazil, that Bolsonaro is destroying the country. It is about Lebanon, that 78 percent of her people are living in poverty. It is about Myanmar and its continuing tragedy. It is about Haiti, a nation battered by nature. It is about Covid virus and the vaccine injustice.
That, the US and other developed nations are hoarding vaccines while the poorer world has vaccinated less than 10 percent of its population. It is about the ‘ineptitude of the world leadership’ and ‘moral bankruptcy’ that the chief of the WHO spoke about. Most important of all, the world is talking about ‘the code red for humanity.’ The very survival of the earth is in question.
Pope Francis, a genuine leader, is talking about Integral Ecology, environmental stewardship, poverty and inequality, peace and diplomacy, trafficking in persons, discernment, conversion, synodality and so many other human issues.
To read the full article, visit Matters India