06 CBCI New Year Message - Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX

posted Jan 11, 2018, 7:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2018, 7:54 AM ]
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India wishes you a New Year filled with God's abundant blessings, His Peace and Joy. As India and the world ushers in 2018, we look forward with hope and enthusiasm. We pray for our beloved country, for our political and spiritual leaders, and for every Indian, that 2018 may be a year of peace and harmony, of love and fraternity, of inclusive and integral development for all peoples.

Even as we enter the New Year, a series of happenings that threaten the very idea of India have been taking place.

We have been saddened by disturbing reports of an uncalled for attack on Dalits in Pune, Maharashtra. According to newspaper reports, "groups carrying saffron flags allegedly attacked Dalits headed to the British-built memorial to those who died in the battle of 1818." That this annual event is suddenly under attack is an alarming sign and we condemn the violence unequivocally. We appeal for peace and harmony.

In Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, a Catholic Institution, St Mary's Post Graduate College is being threatened by ABVP activists that trouble will be created on January 4, 2018 in the college. The College has already been attacked once by these lumpen elements on December 30, 2017, who entered the college by scaling walls, and as one newspaper called it, creating a "hungama" demanding that a certain type of worship be enforced in the College. The attack took place in the presence of over 20 policemen, who watched without acting. This type of terrorism is unacceptable. This false nationalism must stop. That mobs of these type are being emboldened, as was earlier seen in Satna, is worrying and disturbing.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding team of lawyers deputed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India has reported that the tiny Christian community there is frightened and worried. Among other things, they observed that "The Bajrang Dal activists shouted slogans against Christians, and used filthy and foul language to abuse them. They asked the brothers and priests to come forward one by one, and took photos of everyone, and wrote down the phone numbers; and the police silently watched. It looked as if the whole incident was scripted and directed by Bajrang Dal activists, with the sponsorship of the Police. The police did not do anything to protect the brothers. The manhandling and thrashing by the Bajrang Dal members was so ruthless that many got bruises and injuries; and the spectacles of three brothers were broken. They forced the brothers to say, "Jai Sri Ram, Jai Bajrang Bali."