Indian Catholics praise humility of Pope in apologizing: PCP Report by Pervez Bari


BHOPAL, September 22, 2006 : The All India Catholic Union, (AICU), In resolutions passed at the annual general meeting, (AGM), held in Calcutta on Monday has praised the humility of Pope Benedict XVI for his apology to the Muslim community whose sentiments had been hurt by a quotation from a 14th Century Emperor that the Holy Father had cited from a book during a speech delivered to students at a university. The AICU in a Press statement, issued by Dr. John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council, Government of India, who has been re-elected president of the AICU, said that although the world could see that the Pope`s remarks had been quoted out of context, the Catholic Union noted he had not stood on prestige, but had expressed his regrets that it had hurt Muslim sentiments. The Catholic Union expressed its sharp criticism of the media, particularly the Indian television news channels and newspapers who had gone out of the way to add fuel to the fire as anti-Catholic violence erupted in some cities of India. The AICU expressed the hope that passions would subside the peace would be restored wherever there had been incidents of violence during the protests. Sorrow was expressed at the death of a nun killed in terrorists firing. The Catholic Union, however, said global peace was a matter of overriding concern and the Pope`s argument for a dialogue between religions on a platform of reason could ensure the basis of a lasting peace. The AICU expressed its deep distress at the continuing violence against the Indian Christian community in various states, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Orissa. In many cases violence against persons and institutions was directly traced to the RSS, Bajrang Dal and other cadres. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh particularly, the government`s police and criminal justice machinery was defending the culprits and was a party to the persecution of the Christians. AICU has called on Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh to take notice of the wave of violence and take steps to reassure the community. In the same context, the AICU called for fair deal for refugees who were converts from the Pandit community in Kashmir, and Christian tribals working in the tea estates of Assam who had been denied affirmative action privileges given to given to others. The AICU took serious note of the manner in which the Justice Ranganath Mishra commission was going about its investigations of the demands of Christians of Scheduled caste origin. It regretted that a Central Government Commission was asking research groups to invite Sangh Parivar spokesmen and activists to its surveys in a manner that was deemed to be confrontational and coercive. The Catholic Union also cautioned the Union and State governments against eroding the Freedom of faith guarantees enshrined in the Constitution of India through various enactments. Analyzing the relationship between the Laity and the Hierarchy of the Indian Catholic Church, the Union regretted that many Bishops were hampering the interests of the Laity by refusing to allow associations in their dioceses and parishes. It said the ethos of the Second Vatican demanded a strong and organized Laity in the service of the Church. The Union also called upon the Catholic Bishops Conference of India to ensure that its education policy incorporated admission to poor Catholics and other Christians to all institutions from the school level to professional college. The AICU, however, denounced efforts by some State governments such as in Kerala to erode the protection of Article 30 of the Constitution of India by putting un-called for pressure on Minority medical and engineering colleges. (

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