Saturday, October 12, 2002

NCCI expresses shock over violence in Sholapur

Nagpur, 13 October

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) expressed deep shock over the violence which took place at Sholapur over the insult made by Rev. Jerry Falwell, an independent and free lance preacher, against Islam in his public broadcast.

The Council wants to make it very clear that we condemn such statements and the Churches in India disapprove any such derogatory statements made by individuals which are against the teachings of Jesus.

A press note issued here on 12 October by General Secretary of NCCI Rev. Dr. Ipe Joseph said that we stand in complete solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, declaring mutual respect between these religions.

The NCCI calls upon the Christians and Muslims in Sholapur and all other citizens of India to keep calm and make conscious efforts to heal each other’s wounds. The NCCI strongly requests Rev. Jerry Falwell and others not to make any such un-Christian remarks in the future.

It may be mentioned here that nine persons were killed at Sholapur, including four in police firing, when violence erupted on 11 October after a bandh called by All India Muslim Vikas Parishad, a local Muslim group to protest against the remarks made by a US Baptist leader, Rev. Falwell, in New York, regarding the Holy Prophet.


Caritas Rededicates Itself to Work for Uplift of Poor

Caritas India, the social service wing of the Catholic Church in India, has rededicated itself to work for uplift of the poor and the marginalised, relief and rehabilitation of victims of various calamities, poverty eradication and sustainable development in India.

At a press conference here on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Caritas India, October 7, Executive Director of Caritas, Fr. John. Noronha announced that the Church organisation would build 40 hostels - marking the 40 years of Caritas's existence - to benefit the rural poor, especially the girl children.

Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi highlighted the main achievements of Caritas and said the organisation has promoted 700,000 self-help groups, comprising 14 million rural poor as a long-term and self-reliant development strategy to empower the poor.

"Caritas India rededicates itself to strengthen the capacities of the poor to emerge as leaders in gram sabha (village-level bodies) and panchayati raj (village administration) sector through democratic values of cooperation, progress and nation-building."

To a question on conversion, Archbishop Vincent Concessao said conversion by force is not conversion and that the Church does not believe in conversion using development as a ploy. "In the development sector, the idea of conversion has to be understood as conversion from situations of poverty to situations of progress and development. As such the development work in the Church focuses on poverty eradication and restoration of human dignity. In this context, the poor are the change agents," he said.

Caritas India also proposed to establish a National Centre for Environmental Studies in the Social Sector in Nagpur, Maharashtra, with an aim to develop pro-poor environmental models and initiatives to benefit small farmers.

A press statement October 7 said Caritas India always responded quickly and instantly during natural disasters and has recently spent Rs.850 million in Gujarat for relief work, rehabilitation of the earthquake victims and rebuilding of 3094 houses in 14 villages, schools, community centres and sanitation facilities.

Friday, October 11, 2002

TAMIL NADU CONVERSION ORDINANCE: Reaction from Nagpur

One of the professors at St. Charles' Seminary, Nagpur observed: If the ordinance seeks to ban only those conversions which are procured through coercion or allurements then the Church cannot really oppose it, as the opposition might be interpreted to mean that Church in fact encourages conversions through force and allurements. The Church has to carefully examine the ordinance before it takes to the streets. Or else the Church will be giving a stick in the hands of the Sangh Parivar to beat it. There have been instances where conversions were in fact procured through force and allurements by members of splinter Christian groups and denominations. Such incidents are bringing a bad name to the whole Christian Community. Therefore the Catholic leaders have to unequivocally denounce such conversions.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

NEWS

For information on Rosary Devotions access: www.hcfm.org

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Notable Quotes

· "Like the first vision of the nation to attain freedom generated unity of thoughts and actions with a singular aim, we recognise our nation has to have the second vision to transform India into a developed nation.This vision armed with economic strength will eliminate all small thoughts and actions and the evil designs of divisive forces that challenge the peace and prosperity of the nation and its security,'' the President said in his message." - (President Kalam, The Hindu, Oct. 02, 2002)

· "When men with tainted karma, start preaching rajdharma, word and deed go far apart, to make lying a state of art!" - (Rajinder Puri, Outlook, Sep. 30, 2002)

· "The end of the centralized, energy-consuming, capitalist, urban-centric, exploitative, and resource-damaging westernized system is near. And the emergence of decentralised, individual-oriented, village-centric, agro-based, eco-friendly, resource-generating Hindutva ideology is certain". - (K.S. Sudarshan, Organiser, Sep. 23-29, 2002)

· "What the nation has to remember is that every incident of innocents' torture gives birth to more terrorism"

- (Kuldip Nayar , The Hindu, Sep. 30, 2002)



· "Akshardham was the first fruit of the poison tree that was sown last March, after Godhra. And it will certainly not be the last." - (Prem Shankar Jha, Outlook, Oct. 07, 2002)



· "Who are we to say, 'Who's Hindu, who's Muslim, when there is Ali in DIW-ALI and Ram in RAM-ZAN?"
- (Bhakti Saying, Hindustan Times, Oct. 01, 2002)

N. B: Apologies for not updating for the last three days. Out Phone lines were not in good condition.

NEWS

Fr. Bosco George, OP, re-elected prior of St.Dominic's Ashram, Nagpur.

Tamil Nadu Govt. Promulgates Anti-conversion Ordinance

The Government of Tamil Nadu October 5 night promulgated an Ordinance to provide for "banning of conversion from one religion to another by use of force or allurement or by any fraudulent means and for matters incidental," national news agency Press Trust of India reported, October 5.

In an official Press release put out in Chennai October 5, the State Government said introducing legislation to prohibit conversions "would be a deterrent against antisocial and vested interest groups, exploiting innocent people belonging to the depressed classes."

The Ordinance called the 'Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2002' will come into force immediately, the release added.

The Government, the news agency said, had decided to bring in such legislation "to also nip in the bud attempts by some religious fundamentalists and subversive forces to create communal disharmony in the name of religious conversion."

The release further stated that "anyone contravening section 3 of the Ordinance (prohibiting attempts or attempts to convert form one religion to another), shall, without prejudice to any civil liability, be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years and also liable to a fine extending up to Rs.50000."

In case of conversion of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to a scheduled caste or tribe, "the guilty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term (which may extend up to four years) and liable to a fine of up to Rs.100000," the Government release added.

It also said "whoever converted anyone from one religion to another by performing a ceremony by himself as a religious priest, or by taking part directly or indirectly in such ceremony, shall within such period as may be prescribed, intimate the magistrate of a district in which the conversion took place, of the fact of conversion."

BJP, Kanchi Seer Welcome Move: Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the seer of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi October 6 ,welcomed the Tamil Nadu Government's new Ordinance banning conversions.

The BJP National Secretary, Mr. L. Ganesan appreciating the Jayalalithaa Government's bold steps, said that his party, "from its jana sangh days had been demanding such a step," reports reaching SAR News from Chennai said.

He also appealed to the political parties in Tamil Nadu to support the legislation, which will soon be placed in the Legislative Assembly.The Kanchi seer on his part said a similar law on the lines of one introduced in Tamil Nadu should be framed to cover the entire country.He said in a statement that it was regrettable that conversions were taking places even 50 years after Indian independence. "Legislation alone cannot achieve a stated purpose, the people's cooperation is essential in curbing conversions," he said.

Archbishop of Madurai and other Christian Groups Oppose Ordinance

Archbishop Marianus Arokiasamy of Madurai October 7 night,Called for immediate withdrawal of the Ordinance promulgated by Tamil Nadu Government here .The All-India Christian People's Forum (AICPF) October 6 ,urged the Tamil Nadu Government to immediately withdraw the "draconian" Ordinance, banning religious conversions, which was promulgated October 5 night .

President of Tamil Nadu minority rights forum ,the archbishop stated that the urgently promulgated ordinance was "anti christian, anti minority, against the people and on communal lines. Conversion is and was voluntary for centuries and no money was involved in that." He added.

AICPF general secretary, Mr. Brindavan C. Moses has termed the Ordinance as "ill-conceived, hastily-issued and smacks of a pro-Hindutva (Hindu supremacy) ideological bias of the State Government headed by Ms. Jayalalithaa Jayaram," a report from the national news agency, the United News of India, said October 6.

Appealing to the Government to give up its "anti-Christian stance by withdrawing the Ordinance, Mr. Moses said the Jayalalithaa Government had fallen into the trap of fundamentalist forces. "The Ordinance breaches the fundamental rights and, more particularly, stands against the freedom of the citizens to freely practise and propagate any religion," an AICPF statement added.


Global Council of India Christians Demands Ordinance Withdrawal

Bangalore-based Global Council of Indian Christians has demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversions Ordinance, "which is the most heinous violation of religious freedom aimed at targeting Christians engaged in poverty alleviation."

In a press statement issued here October 6, the Council's Convenor, Mr. Sajan K. George said that "we are intrigued and alarmed by the hurriedly promulgated Ordinance and constrained to believe that Ms. Jayalalithaa (the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister) succumbed to the Parivar (pro-Hindu) script at the cost of Dravidian ideals."

Ms. Jayalalithaa should immediately address the rampant untouchability offences as pointed out in the study by National Commission for SC/ST of India which revealed the failure of Tamil Nadu "to give access to "untouchables" (the oppressed or low caste people) to drinking water in the common water sources in villages, to have access to temples, denial of visits to tea stalls, hair cutting saloons, laundry services, refusal to social ceremonies, discrimination regarding seating in the village committees, etc."

The statement said the Constitution of India guarantees its citizens a secular, democratic government and protection of Religious Freedom for all its citizens. "However, tension between Hindus and Christians will continue to pose a serious threat to the concept of secularism, democracy and plural polity with the promulgation of the anti-conversion Ordinance," it said.

Mr. George said the Ordinance is arbitrary and aimed at the curtailing freedom of the Christian minority. END