Hundreds of Christians from various denominations prayed together for India on Oct. 2, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation. Delhi Archdiocese organized an ecumenical program, Prayer for India, in New Delhi, recalling Gandhi’s ideals of peace and non-violence. India is going through "tough times now, fighting unemployment, natural disasters, hate and religious conflict,” said Divine Word Father Felix Jones, who heads the archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue. "We could have observed the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi in many different ways. But we thought it best if all Christians came together to seek God's help and mercy for the country.” Gandhi (1869-1948) was known as the apostle of peace after he led India's struggle for freedom from British colonial rule through a non-violent movement of non-corporation.
He worked for the unity of Indian people, fighting discriminative and oppressive customs and rituals based on caste, religion and ethnicity. Naturam Godse, a Hindu religious fanatic, shot Gandhi dead on Jan. 30, 1948, five months after the British left India. Godse and his supporters accused Gandhi of speaking for the rights of Muslims. Religious minorities such as Muslims and Christians claim Hindu fanatics
have stepped up their activities since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. They complain that Hindu groups push for Hindu dominance, discarding the ideals of freedom fighters like Gandhi, who fought for religious coexistence and secularism. Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi
prayed for "repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace" at the program. He said the task of Christians is to "practice what we learned from the Church's teaching like forgiveness, love for our neighbors." To build a peaceful society, Christians should become "the salt and light" through "forgiveness, love and reconciliation." Retired Archbishop Vincent Concessao wanted Christians to recommit "ourselves to non-violence and peace. We should also commit ourselves to serve our nation." Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, prayed for religious freedom, stressing that India’s constitution allows citizens the right to practice and propagate any faith of choice. He said several people had been killed in India in the name of religion in recent years. "It is time we prayed for the divine mercy that people may have respect for all faiths and proclaim brotherhood and peace," he said. Cow vigilante groups have attacked and sometimes lynched
people accused of possessing or transporting beef. Orthodox Hindus consider the cow a revered animal. Published reports show that at least 44 people have been killed in cow vigilante attacks since 2015 in over 80 incidents. Such attacks have also injured 140 people. At least 36 of the dead were Muslims, but they also included socially poor Dalit Hindus and tribal Christians.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...