Dalit Christians in India file complaint with UN against the Vatican

Accuse Church of rampant caste-based discrimination

“There are separate cemeteries for Dalit Christians. Even in the church there are separate seating arrangements for those from the Dalit community and others.The festival choir processions do not enter the streets where Dalit Christians live.”

In some churches even the dead body of a Dalit Christian is not allowed inside for funeral Mass.

<p>Indian Dalit Christians and Muslims sit in the rain during a 2012 protest in Delhi (AFP Photo/Raveendran)</p>

Indian Dalit Christians and Muslims sit in the rain during a 2012 protest in Delhi (AFP Photo/Raveendran)

 Christian Dalits in India filed a complaint on Tuesday with the United Nations accusing the Holy See of not doing enough to curb discrimination faced by “untouchables” within the Catholic Church.

A delegation of 22 people from the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) and Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi (a collective of human rights activists) submitted the complaint at the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan in Delhi.

“We have submitted seven copies of the complaint to Rajeev Chandran, assistant director of the UN Centre in New Delhi addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and different human rights organizations,” Mary John, president of the DCLM, told ucanews.com.

The complaint accuses the Vatican and the Indian Catholic Church leadership of caste-based discrimination “by way of allowing it directly and indirectly in their spiritual, educational and administrative places”.

The delegation asked the UN and other organizations to urge the Holy See to eradicate the caste discriminatory practices and to withdraw the Permanent Observer position of the Holy See in the UN if the Vatican does not take the necessary steps.

Dalits, or untouchables, are the lowest caste within Hindu society. Huge numbers of Dalits have converted to Christianity and Islam over the decades, though in reality the religions offer limited protection from societal prejudice.

“The discrimination against Dalit Christians in the Catholic Church is a human rights issue and it would be right if we approach the UN to find a solution to it,” John said.

Kudanthai Arasan, president of the Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi, said Dalit Christians routinely face discrimination in their daily life.

“There are separate cemeteries for Dalit Christians. Even in the church there are separate seating arrangements for those from the Dalit community and others. The festival choir processions do not enter the streets where Dalit Christians live,” he said, adding that in some churches even the dead body of a Dalit Christian is not allowed inside for funeral Mass.

While Dalit Christians form 70 percent of the total Catholic population in India, said John, their representation in the Church leadership is only 4-5 percent.

He added that Dalits are not recruited for the priesthood and are rarely permitted to be appointed as bishops.

Out of about 200 active bishops in India, only nine are from the Dalit community.

“We have raised our voice time and again to end this practice in the Indian Church, but our pleas have been falling on deaf ears,” he added.

The Dalit Christians also blamed the top bishops’ body in India — the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) — for not pursuing the issue with the Holy See.

“They do not take our case seriously to the Vatican. The CBCI has come out with declarations terming caste-ism as [a] sin but they themselves are practicing it,” John said.

However, Fr Joseph Chinnayyan, CBCI deputy secretary general, told ucanews.com that the organization has never received any complaint of discrimination against Dalits in the Catholic Church in the past.

He said that as far as the Dalit Christians’ complaint about the issue to the UN is concerned, “we are not aware of any such complaint and will only respond once we receive any communication about it”.

Courtesy: UCAnews.com

Another GEM from the Brain of Julio Rebeiro;

Why we must listen to Rohini Salian

Going slow on ‘Hindu terror’ is dangerous. It’s also an insult to the memory of Hemant Karkare.

 column, express column, Hindu terror, Rohini Salian, lawyer, hindu extremists, BJP, Hemant Karkare, BJP leaders, L K Advani, 2008 Malegaon Blast, ATS, Indian ExpressRohini Salian is a legend in the world of public prosecutors.
Written by Julio Ribeiro |

Rohini Salian is a legend in the world of public prosecutors. Every policeman knows her name. So do the lawyers and judges of the city of Mumbai. She is single-minded in her commitment to her duties and, above all, everyone knows that she cannot be bought.

Salian’s lament on being asked to go soft on Hindu extremists accused of terrorist acts frightens us to believe that the country is steadily being led on to the path trodden by our surly neighbour on our western border. The masterminds of the 26/11 attacks are treated like heroes in Pakistan.

We are not there yet, but if hidden hands nudge the judicial system to free murderers of the saffron variety, we will be soon.

A day before he was shot dead by Pakistani terrorists who had clandestinely sailed from Karachi to Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, an outstanding IPS officer of impeccable integrity as well as high intelligence and abilities, had come to meet me. He was disturbed by the reactions of some BJP leaders, particularly L.K. Advani, to the turn his investigations had taken in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which he headed at that time, had initially suspected jihadi fanatics. Such thoughts would come naturally to any policeman those days as Muslim groupings like Simi had been responsible for several terrorist acts across the country. But, the ATS had suddenly, unexpectedly and, I must add, fortuitously come across incontrovertible evidence, which included taped conversations, to prove that the Malegaon blasts, as well as the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts that killed nearly a hundred people, were conceived, planned and executed by a group of fanatical Hindus bent on revenge.

It is the duty of law enforcers to seek the real offenders and ensure that they are dealt with by the law of the land. Politics, religion, caste, community have no role to play in the pursuit of truth and justice. It is true that such lofty ideals are often forgotten but fortunately there are still police officers who act according to their conscience and the Constitution. Hemant Karkare was one such officer.

I went through some of the evidence he had gathered. I was staggered. I could understand the anger that prompted the perpetrators to embark on their misconceived journey. But a police officer has to do his duty, which is to stick to the truth and the letter of the law. I advised Karkare to abide by his “dharma”. I offered to speak to Advani if required. I was sure that Advani would appreciate the fact that Karkare was doing what any true gentleman and patriot would be expected to do.

Unfortunately, Ajmal Kasab and his brainwashed companions snuffed out the life of a good man. Karkare was not around to pursue the case but his successors carried on the investigations and filed the chargesheet against the real culprits in court.

Salian is one public prosecutor who can be equated to Karkare, albeit in a parallel arm of the judicial process. As Karkare was to probity in investigations, Rohini is to probity in prosecution. She sticks to the truth and to her duty. In her, the powerful people who want to scuttle the case for ideological reasons have caught a Tartar.

Hemant had approached Salian because he knew that she was not a person who could be influenced by money or any other inducement.
And she was competent. It is this same Rohini Salian whom the powers that be now want to remove from the case because she is not willing to budge from the path of duty and truth. Shame on those who are attempting to interfere in the course of justice. They do not realise the damage they do to the rule of law, to which, incidentally, they pay lip service.

What is worse is that by their covert attempts to get the culprits off the hook, they are encouraging jihadists to strike again, something they are already good at. Another negative fallout will be the licence it will give to evil-minded investigators and prosecutors, both of whom are proliferating in ever-increasing numbers, to revel in injustice and corruption. And then, there is the ultimate price we will pay: losing the moral right to condemn Pakistan when it protects men like Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

Our leaders need to think of these consequences before they covertly try to sabotage the course of justice. They should desist from making our great country in the image of our neighbour. And finally, they should respect the memory of that fallen martyr, Hemant Karkare, instead of cocking a snook at his noble efforts to bring the true offenders to book.

The writer, a retired IPS officer, was Mumbai police commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab

Courtesey: The Indian Express

Cardinal Gracias condemns nun’s rape as a national shame;

 

The cardinal said that the trivialization and objectification of women is a growing social evil in India.

Mumbai:Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai has condemned the rape and violence on an Indian Catholic nun on June 20 in Raipur, Chhattisgarh state, calling it a national shame.

“It is a national shame and a disgrace that our women are abused and raped,” the Cardinal who is the president of India’s Latin rite bishops’ conference said.

The 47-year old Salesian Missionary of Mary Immaculate, covering her face, spoke at a press conference on Thursday, narrating the sexual assault on her by two unidentified people inside her bed room.

“This happened to a consecrated woman religious, who has dedicated her life to God.” “Our religious nun,” Cardinal Gracias said. She “was violated in a medical dispensary, the very place, where she selflessly served to heal the wounds of people.”

The prelate noted that for decades the Catholic Church in India has been tirelessly working for the uplift of the girl child and for the dignity of women through its educational, health and social apostolates.

“It is agonizing,” he said, “that various social forces breed misogyny and shape ideas about male dominance and the devaluation of women, which can normalize abusive behavior.”

The cardinal said that the trivialization and objectification of women is a growing social evil in India.

He called on all in society need to engage and collaborate in ending “this discrimination and devaluation of girls and women, and usher in a enlightened era, where women can claim their rightful dignity”.

Source: Vatican Radio

Forty years after emergency, the writing is on the wall: Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ;

 

Forty years is time enough to mull over the happenings of the pre-emergency and post-emergency periods.

 Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ

By Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ
Ahmedabad:Forty years ago on the night of June 25th – 26th 1975, the country stood still as one of the darkest chapters of its history unfolded. For those whose memories will never fail, it was surely a reminder of those immortal words of Pandit Nehru when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, “the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere”. Very strangely those words of Nehru was an apt quote for the misdeeds of his own daughter Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India who on that dark night of 1975 promulgated emergency rule in India and in a matter of moments extinguished the light in the lives of many Indians.

Forty years is time enough to mull over the happenings of the pre-emergency and post-emergency periods. Several reasons were cited for the declaration of emergency; these included: protests and strikes which had paralysed the Government and hurt the economy greatly; massive political opposition and above all several Congressmen already leaving the party because of the dictatorial tendencies of Indira Gandhi.

The emergency rule effectively suspended the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizens of the country. There was a massive crackdown on civil liberties and on every form of political opposition. Thousands were arrested all over the country and some organisations were even banned. Elections to parliament and state governments were suspended and the judiciary became a willing tool in the hands of the Government. Indira’s son Sanjay Gandhi became de facto ‘a super power’ initiating a compulsory sterilisation programme in order to limit the growth of the country’s population. Freedom of speech and expression was totally suspended with the ‘Indian Express’ coming out with a blank lead edit on June 28th 1975 as a sign of protest. Emergency however in India did not last and on March 23rd 1977 it officially ended.

Forty years after that black day, the writing on the wall today seems to be loud and clear! One only needs to look around and to see how systematically the sanctity of the Constitution is being violated and how the freedoms and rights of the ordinary citizens are being curtailed. Civil rights activists are under attack; those who question Government policies and rulers of today are subject to all kinds of intimidation and harassment. This Government clearly brooks no dissent. “Foreign money” has become the big bogey. Those who receive and use it for the rights of the people, to protect the forests, the lands and waters are at the receiving end; on the other hand, big business and other vested interests can receive foreign funds to profiteer and to destroy what is precious to the ordinary citizens of the land.

Education is being tampered with as never before. History textbooks are being manipulated to suit the whims and fancies of those who govern us. Prestigious bodies like the Indian Council of Historical Research, the NCERT and the IITs have lost visionaries because of Government interference. Even the much sought after Film Institute of India has been foisted with a Director who has questionable credentials. The way media is co-opted and even hounded is a clear sign that all is not well in the world’s largest democracy. Lies and half-truths rule the roost. Convicted murderers are out on the streets with political patronage.

In a far-ranging interview to a newspaper, very recently on the fortieth anniversary on the imposition of the emergency, Mr. LK. Advani, the doyen of the BJP minces no words when he says, “forces that can crush democracy are stronger today, I don’t have confidence it (Emergency) cannot happen again”!!!

The writing is on the wall: need we say more?

* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.

Church, and All of India, Mourns Mother Teresa’s Successor, Sister Nirmala;

India’s prime minister tweets his ‘deepest condolences,’ as a collection of leading Church and political officials were present yesterday at the nun’s funeral service in Kolkata. 06/25/2015 

Anto Akkara

Missionaries of Charity sisters file past Sister Nirmala’s body at the motherhouse chapel in Kolkata. Below is Sister Nirmala’s funeral procession to the cemetery at St. John Church. She was baptized at the church in 1958.

– Anto Akkara

KOLKATA, India — Glowing tributes have been paid to Sister Nirmala Joshi, successor of Mother Teresa, who died June 23 in Kolkata.

For 12 years, Sister Nirmala headed the Missionaries of Charity congregation, until retiring in 2009.

“Sister Nirmala’s death is a loss not only for Kolkata, but for the whole world. We have lost a loving and compassionate mother,” extolled Mamata Bannerji, a Hindu and chief minister of the state of West Bengal, which has Kolkata as its capital.

“She always cared for the poor people. Physically we have lost her, but she will be with us. Sister Nirmala cannot die,” said the chief minister. She made her remarks during the June 24 “civic homage” at the Mother House chapel, with the body of Sister Nirmala placed in the middle, ahead of the funeral service led by Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of  India.

“Sister Nirmala’s life was devoted to service, caring for the poor & underprivileged. Saddened by her demise. May her soul rest in peace,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after the Missionaries of Charity announced her death.

Modi also offered “deepest condolences to the Missionaries of Charity family on the passing away of Sister Nirmala.”

While the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) did not issue any formal statement on the death of Sister Nirmala, due its policy not to make statements marking the death of leaders of religious congregations, CBCI deputy secretary general Msgr. Chinnayan Joseph flew to Kolkata for the funeral; meanwhile, several bishops and Catholic organizations issued statements condoling the death of Sister Nirmala, a Hindu convert.

Died at Home

The ailing 80-year-old Sister Nirmala died amid prayers at the congregation’s St. John’s convent at Sealdah — a mile away from the motherhouse — where she was baptized during the Easter vigil of 1958.

“Critically ill from Easter (due to kidney failure), Sister Nirmala expressed a desire to return home from hospital. On June 19, her condition turned worse, and she slipped into a coma on the 21st. She went home to Jesus at 12:05am yesterday morning,” recalled senior Missionary of Charity Sister Nicole at the beginning the funeral service.

“Her life was her message. She practiced the Sermon on the Mount with love and served the poorest of the poor. Sister Nirmala was a symbol of patience, compassionate and ever enduring love,” said Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata in his homily.

Hindus and Muslims were among the mourners who braved intermittent drizzles and downpours, as hundreds of people from all walks of life queued up to have a final glimpse of Sister Nirmala. Her body was brought to the motherhouse earlier in the morning and placed for public homage beside the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa.

While several mourners came with flowers, persons with physical disabilities could be seen filing past the body kept in a glass casket, and dozens of Missionaries of Charity and others sang hymns. The sight of dozens of infant orphans — mostly of unwed mothers from the nearby sishu bhvan (children’s home), carried by the congregation’s sisters and maids — filing past the body illustrated the shared commitment to the poor of Sister Nirmala’s religious order.

From a Brahmin Family to a Life of Service

The eldest of 10 children of an ethnic Nepali Brahmin (Hindu priestly class) family, Kusum Joshi was born on July 23, 1934, in the northern Indian state of Bihar, where her father, Mahananda Joshi, served in military service.

Kusum, meaning “flower,” had the first experience of “God’s call” while in college, at the age of 17. After completing her master’s degree in political science in Patna, Kusum went to Kolkata. She was baptized during the Easter vigil of 1958 and was given the name “Nirmala,” meaning “pure,” by Mother Teresa. She joined the Missionaries of Charity a month later.

One of the few Missionary sisters to have pursued university studies after joining the congregation, Sister Nirmala completed her law degree and subsequently supervised the work of Missionary houses in Europe and the United States. Besides heading the order’s contemplative wing that she co-founded with Mother Teresa in 1976, the diminutive nun, armed with a disarming smile, accompanied Mother Teresa on several trips abroad.

On March 13, 1997, six months before Mother Teresa’s death, Sister Nirmala was selected as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity. In January 2009, the Indian government bestowed on Sister Nirmala the “Padma Vibhushan” —  the nation’s second-highest civilian award — for her services to the nation.

Though re-elected for a third time as superior general in 2009, Sister Nirmala declined the honor due to old age and ill health.

Family Presence

Surendra Prasad Joshi, the Hindu younger brother of Sister Nirmala, who flew in from Kathmandu, Nepal, for the funeral, along with Carmelite Sister Mary Terese, a younger sibling who followed Sister Nirmala into the Catholic Church and joined the Congregation of the Apostolic Carmel, sat near the coffin during the two-and-a-half-hour funeral service.

When the coffin was taken away in a flower-decked hearse in the evening, among those bidding farewell was Hindu Chief Minister Bannerji, who had stayed for nearly three hours at the motherhouse.

As the hearse started moving towards St. John’s cemetery, a mile away, for the “private” burial, the Missionary sisters followed behind on foot, led by Sister Mary Prema, a German native who took over the reins of the congregation from Sister Nirmala.

Register correspondent Anto Akkara filed this report from Kolkata, India.

Filed under anto akkara, missionaries of charity, mother teresa

 

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