“Prophet of religious harmony” Albefrt dies

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Albert Nampiaparampil no more –  By Matters India on Feb. 7, 2017

James kottoor(Note: Yes Fr. Albert well deserves to be called “Kerala’s Prophet of Religious Harmony.” This scribe also was a close friend and collaborator with him, just 3 years younger to him, and attended many of his meetings. The participants in Kerala were mostly Hindus and Muslims besides Christians.

The central meaning of Religion is to unite – that is unite man horizontally and vertically — horizontally with people of all religions first, secondly with those who don’t believe in any religion, such as atheists and agnostics. Vertically religion has to unite people with God above, below, within or around according to each one’s idea about divine presence. That God is everywhere – within us, without us, in the grass, plants, trees, flowers and fruits in all animate ad inanimate things – is the growing awareness of God today. Only doubt is if God is within us or we are within God.

Since people are not ready yet to learn from each religion, instead of fighting among themselves to establish the superiority one over the others, many are coming to realize that all religions are equally good and true. Since that is not acceptable to all many today speak of the need of a religion-less world following the teachings of Sri. Narayana Guru: One religion, one God and one caste, the human caste. This is what Jesus also preached setting himself as the model and exemplar as the “Son of man”  the ideal for a humane humanity anywhere.

In discussions of this type the guiding principle to follow is that of St.Augustine: “Unity in necessary things, diversity in unnecessary things and charity in all things.” In any case ‘harmony is most important’ which demands  that “we all must learn to disagree in an agreeable way” or follow the principle of Voltaire:

“I will go even to death to defend your right to express your views in speech or writing, even when I may not agree  one bit with what you have to say.” That kind of tolerance is needed to live and let live and promote true harmony in diversity.  james kottoor, editor)

Kochi: Father Albert Nambiaparambil, one of the pioneers of interreligious dialogue in modern India and known as Kerala’s prophet of religious harmony, died on February 6 after a brief illness. He was 86.

The funeral is scheduled for February 8 at the Carmel Ashram in Vazhakulam near Kochi, some 50 km east of Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital. Father Nambiaparambil, a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate congregation, was the founder director of Chavara Cultural Centre in Kerala.

Its present director Father Roy Kannanchira says his senior confrere was inspired by Saint Chavara Kuriakose Elias, who respected different religions and culture and spread the message of tolerance and harmony through his words and deeds. According to him, Father Nambiaparambil’s initiatives in promoting interreligious harmony were unparalleled.

The Malayala Manorama, Kerala’s leading newspaper, hailed him as the “prophet of religious harmony” in the southern Indian state.He was the brain behind the World Fellowship of Interreligious Councils (WFIRC), also based in Kochi, that organized several world conferences on religions.

Besides Upasana (worship) Cultural Centre in Thodupuzha, he set up Sopanam (sacred steps) in Adimaly and Sagamam (confluence) in Munnar, both in Idukki district.

He joined the CMI congregation in 1950 and was ordained a priest nine years later. He obtained a doctorate from the Gregorian University in Rome and taught in Dharmaram College in Bangalore, Karnataka, during 1963-1969. He was then appointed the secretary of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, a post he held for nine years.

He organized the Interfaith World Celebration of Unity and Life at Kochi in 1993 to mark the centenary of the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, the United States. More than 360 participants from many nations, cultures and religions, attended the conference on “Religion and Human Solidarity.” It concluded that religion should lead to society´s transformation and resolved to form dialogue groups in areas where such groups do not exist.

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