In an effort to develop a generation of Indians who accept the values of equality for all beyond the differences of caste, religion and wealth, the Catholic bishops of India is planning to introduce a regular course of the study of the Indian Constitution in their schools.
"We generally teach students everything but not the values of constitution, our sacred book," said Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta, who heads the Education and Culture office, in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), according to reports in the latest UCANindia report. The CBCI has issued a module June 11 for use in all Catholic educational institutions during the academic year June 2018 – July 2019.
"In this first stage, we have decided to focus on the preamble of the constitution," he said. In its preamble, India's constitution presents the country as "a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic" which will secure social and economic justice, liberty of thought and religion, equality and human dignity for its citizens,” explained the Archbishop. The CCV instantly congratulates him for his exemplary and farsighted initiative.
Constitution binds all together
Indian constitution is the only binding force that keeps us all together. It was proclaimed in 1950 three years after gaining independence in 1947. It was only a week ago that the idea of making the Constitution an essential part of the school curriculum was suggested also by Archbishop Susai Pakkiam of Trivandrum which we reported and congratulated him as well. So the idea of making the Constitution, part of school curriculm, is the idea of at least two Archbishops, from North and South.
Indians are an argumentative people. Today more than ever before they are divided and torn apart by various forces like caste, class, creed, country, community, colour, language and what not. Most divisive among them is creed, the various religions people believe in. Especially since the advent of BJP four years ago, its central leadership has been trying to paint India with the saffron colour with the idea of achieving two clear goals.
The first is the victory for their political ideology as opposed to those of the Congress and Communists. They want a Congress-Mukt Bharat. They have achieved it to a great extent by capturing political power in 21 out of 29 states. Congress is now reduced to four states. Four other states, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamilnadu and Kerala are ruled by other parties.
Their second declared objective is to saffronize the whole of India, to make India ruled by Hindutva religious ideology since the vast majority profess Hinduism. Nearly 80 percent of the 1.3 billion Indians is Hindu, while Muslims make up nearly 15 percent and Christians just more than two percent, according to India's 2011 census.
Religion has now become the most polarizing and vexing bone of contention during the BJP rule and has reached its fever pitch in some quarters with Pranab Mukherjee the former president addressing the RSS in Nagpur June 7th. Other happenings that added ammunition to the heated discussion on a divisive religious issue were the apparently well meaning efforts of Archbishops Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Anil Couto of Delhi and Filipe Neri Ferrao of Goa who issued circulars or pastoral letters to their flock to pray for the nation so that divisions may decrease and unity and harmony may grow and flourish.
Bishops and their pastorals
At least some of the Indian bishops are now living up to their responsibility to live up to their duties, also as Indian Citizens, not only as spiritual leaders of their Christian community. Here they are acting in the right spirit of universality shown by Pope Francis when he said ‘our God is not a Catholic God’, promoting morality and spirituality, only of a particular religion but of all humans. People have to be attracted and enticed by good example, and never forced in anyway to follow any religion.
Indulging in any such activities is Proselitzation which is ‘Anathama’ or the most contemnable thing for the Pope and the Catholic Church. When it comes to believers in various religions, it is for each religious group to see and call upon the supreme being as they have conceived Him, tasted and digested Him together with their mother’s milk. That is religious freedom.
But every rational being understands there can be only one God, if there is to be a God at all. It is the rockbottom of our unity, in our belief in a supreme cause of all things for all believers. But we may call it by different names handed down by our forefathers. It is from this logic that the Indian Constitution speaks of “Unity in diversity”, and not “Diversity in Unity”, just the opposite, as the RSS explains. This is discussed in more detail by Valson Thampu in an article in the New Indian Express.
Bishops as Pastors
Bishops in India individually and as a body have been sending out regularly pastoral guidelines for right moral and ethical conduct of their flock in social and political life in the past. Thus in 2012 the CBCI wrote to the whole church in India on the theme ‘The Church’s Role for a Better India’ when they met in Bangalore. (Please read Fr. Prakash’s inspiring article in CCV on 12/06/2018)
In that pastoral they asked their flock to strive for the ideals enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India of a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic which will secure for its citizens Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.” Were Indian bishops dealing in politics? They surely were, as responsible and concerned citizens, but not dabbling in party politics.
Similarly again in 2014 when they met in Palai they wrote on the theme: ‘Renewed Church for a Renewed Society. Responding to the Call of Vatican II’, they said, “When we look at our country, we see corruption plaguing every sphere of society. Corruption in the country and society should be the concern mainly of politicians. So were the bishops wrong in speaking about them? No, they were promoting clean politics.
No politician accused them
On those occasions did any politician ever accuse the bishops of dabbling in politics? Then why do today’s politicians allege that bishops are driven by a hidden political agenda, even when they do not deal in any party politics? May be because on those two occasions, BJP was not in power at the centre.
Today some see even the hidden hand of Vatican remote controlling things and suggest cutting off of all diplomatic relations. Is it better than the suggestion of a quack doctor suggesting the radical remedy of chopping off the head to get rid of headache for ever? Some misguided critics could be making a mountain out of a mole hill of praying for the country. So we labeled our last comment as a “Tempest in a tea cup.”
For a better insight, we humbly suggest to read calmly and dispassionately the beautiful, nay the morally and spiritually elevating article: “Living the Joy of the Gospel in India Today” by Fr. Cedric Prakash in CCV on 12/06/2018. It is a bit long but most inspiring as well as convincing, therefore not tiring at all. It is therefore a must read for those searching for truth.
Equality & unity are Central
To come back to the Central theme: “constitution which assures equality and unity for all”, it may be noted that Catholic Bishops are the least qualified persons, since they don’t practice democracy, to lecture politicians on equality.
Catholic Hierarchy in fact has a much taller and more offensive ladder of inequality, of a power structure, much worse than the degrading Caste system in Hinduism. We have been talking ad nauseam that they should first give up all their imperial appellations and over lording power structures, to imitate the self emptying life style of Jesus from his birth in Cattle shed to Calvary’s top. As long as they are not ready to do that all their preaching can sound only like the pot calling the kettle black.
So let the hierarchical church wipe out first every trace of Caste system and disguised racism (we dicussed them longer elsewhere) and hierarchical inequalities and possibly enforce the equality of the CATTLE CLASS before they can demand it from others. That is evangelization, attracting others through good example, as Pope Francis suggests emphatically.
Evangelization of Evangelizers fist!
Therefore what may be most urgently required first, is evangelization of the Evangelixers than any one else! What Jesus spoke of the High priests and Pharisees of his times(Mt.23) should not be allowed to be spoken of the priestly class of the Catholic church today. So let there be Unity and Equality among the members of the so called Catholic Church first! Let the Church enforce the unity and equality of the Constitutions among its ranks first.