Catholic Bishops of India had met in Bangalore on 1-8 February 2012 and after having reflected on “The Church’s Role for a Better India” have given their message. They have quoted the Preamble of the Constitution, talked about India’s condition, what the Church has done and what the Church intends to do.
Bishops should know that the words Socialist Secular were not part of the Preamble when the Constitution was adopted on 26/11/1949. They were added by 42nd Amendment in 1976 which came into effect on 1/3/1977. Bishops should be inspired by the Bible and not the Constitution.
The good work the Church does through its educational institutions, hospitals, orphanages etc. should continue.
It is wrong to blame economic development for inequalities, gap between the rich and the poor and tensions spilling over into violence. There was inequality before economic development. On the whole the people of India are better off than 20 years before. Some policies and actions of government have benefitted industrialists at the cost of others. Bishops can speak against devaluation of currency, stimulus, bail outs and corporate debt restructuring.
Jesus was not a do-gooder, social worker, activist, revolutionary or evolutionary. He was not a rebel without a cause or rebel without a pause. He spoke of the Kingdom of God. He did not speak of a better society. Jesus did not come to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. He said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”
If a major cause of violence is injustice, bishops should strive for quick justice. Cases drag on for years and there are appeals and people lose hope. Bishops should ask for death penalty in all cases for murder, attempted murder, abduction, acid throwing, character assassination, hijacking, kidnapping, piracy and such high crimes. Bishops should ask for change in legal system. There should be no lawyers. Then the cases will be heard and settled fast.
Female foeticide is a concern. The Church can ask for ban on abortion except in cases of rape and saving mother’s life.
It is good that bishops want to root out untouchability and caste system wherever it exists from within the Church. I have heard that segregation is practised in churches and cemeteries of Tamil Nadu and parish bulletins in Goa carry matrimonial advertisements that mention caste. CBCI should put an end to it. However it is wrong to ask for reservation for some Christians because they were once Dalits. CBCI should fight for abolition of reservations as they are discriminatory. Reservations perpetuate caste system.
It is good to stand for protection of environment. It is not good for bishops and priests to lead agitations against illegal mining, deforestation, mega projects, pollution and so on. Lay people can lead agitations and bishops and priests can lend moral support. Governments crack down on protestors and politicians change their colours as we have witnessed at Koodankulam protests. Tuticorin Diocese was targeted and inquiry conducted about its finances.
Bishops have not said anything about corruption. Corruption is the root of many evils. As long as there is corruption there cannot be Better India. The Church can have some days of prayer and fasting against corruption.
It seems bishops have forgotten about evangelization. They have not said anything about use of media to make Christ better known. Fight against injustice or oppression can be fought by anyone but the Church is needed for evangelization.
Bishops can do something to promote Christian Unity in India. Anglicans who wanted to join the Catholic Church were granted personal ordinariates in UK and USA. Similar arrangements for Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants and other Christians can be made in India.