- Dec 5, 2019
Indian archbishop Thomas Menamparampil says priests have been harassed, educators taking a group of children for picnic are being questioned, religious sisters taking a team of nurses for training are being held up by vigilantes who keep watch on every movement. The archbishop said more and more of the media is coming under control of what he called “cultural nationalists,” while the police have become more pliable to the will of Hindu militants, and it is feared the courts could follow.
The roughly 30 million Christians in India, about half of whom are Catholic, have suffered various forms of intimidation and harassment, including physical violence, instigated by Hindu nationalist groups. There is a fear among Christians that the nation is losing its secular identity.
The local bishop has complained about the disruption of Good Friday services in southern India, blaming it on anti-Christian and anti-Dalit discrimination. Despite the country’s status as a pluralistic, secular democracy, India has long struggled to protect minority religious communities.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, is demanding the recognition by the government of India of the religious freedom of Dalit — or low-caste — Christians by granting Scheduled Caste (SC) status to them.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India has launched a new website intended to help migrants as they move about the country. Often the people most in need of help are those moving from rural communities to cities. The website will provide information on where they can find churches in their new locations and basic services.
A year after Father Tom Uzhunnalil was abducted by suspected Islamic militants in Yemen, Catholics in his home state of Kerala are still praying for his release. “The torture he suffers will definitely deepen his faith and strengthen the church,” said Cardinal George Alencherry.