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Book decries colonial tag for Christians

Calls for retelling of Jesus' story and greater religious unity
Book decries colonial tag for Christians
Published: December 06, 2011 08:36 AM GMT
Updated: December 06, 2011 08:36 AM GMT

Jesus is not understood in India, especially in Goa, because people view him as the God of the colonizers, according to the author of a book published yesterday. Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman presided over a book launch event in the state capital of Panaji to mark the 50th anniversary of Goa’s liberation from 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule. The 120-page book, Being a Goan Christian: The politics of Identity, Rift and Synthesis by Fr Victor Ferrao, says people in India look down on Christians as “clones of colonizers” and that the colonial past blunts the story of Jesus. According to the priest, who teaches philosophy at the local major seminary, the biggest challenge for Christians is to retell the Jesus story in India in a new way to make him acceptable to all. India annexed Goa on December 19, 1961 through military action. India itself was given independence from British rule in 1947. Father Ferrao says the colonial tag makes Christians too much concerned about Hindu reactions. Catholics in Goa in 1998, he recalls in the book, could not celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first Mass offered in their state because of their “fear or respect” of local Hindus. The Mass coincided with the fifth centenary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer who discovered a sea route to India from Europe in 1498. Fr Ferrao further notes in the book that while local people dismiss Catholics as collaborators of the colonists, they find no fault with Hindus who had business relations with the Portuguese. Archbishop Ferrao welcomed the book as a tool to help people understand Christians in Goa. “We need to deal therapeutically with the past and be proactive in dialogue with other religions,” he said during the book launch, adding that colonial rule had discouraged inter-religious dialogue by isolating Catholics and Hindus. He urged both communities to stop suspecting each other and work together for a prosperous Goa. Related reports Colonial legacy evaluated 500 years after Vasco da Gama

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