Skip to main content

Church divided, faces internal issues, as anti-Christian crimes rise under Modi: Report

During a September 2018 nuns' protest against Malakkal in Kochi
By Our Representative
A top US-based Catholic 'voice', "National Catholic Reporter" (NCR), which claims to provide the "only significant alternative" to diverse Christian perspectives, has said that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to the United States was greeted with "a lack of enthusiasm from Christian groups", as they are "aware of the rising violence against religious minorities in India fueled by the government's Hindu nationalist ideology."
Pointing towards the reason, NCR quotes Jesuit Fr Stanislaus Alla, theologian and professor at the Vidyajyoti College of Theology in Delhi, to say  that the Church in India is "paying the price for standing up for human rights." Alla said this on a recent trip to the United States to present a paper on public health in South Asia.
At the same time, the top Christian media site notes, "The Catholic community in India is also besieged by internal issues that have rocked the church in the past few years", citing the public protest by nuns in Kerala against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun.
The Missionaries of Jesus "flouted" the country's anti-rape laws and publicly released the picture of the survivor, causing a massive public uproar. The church was criticized for its inaction against Mulakkal, despite a "written complaint by the survivor".
Regretting that though many within the Church consider such issues as "internal matters" and choose to resolve it without going to the police, Alla says, "We also suffer from 'minority persecution syndrome.' Since we are a minority in India, we tend to not let issues blow up. And that has backfired badly."
The NCR report by Sarah Salvadore, a researcher, says, "The case polarized the community. While many felt the nuns shouldn't have protested publicly, others called for introspection and transparency."
Pointing out that "with cases of clerical sex abuse in India making headlines, the Church has also come under fire for protecting the institution and victim-blaming", Alla says, "We are still in the cover-up and denial mode. Things aren't transparent. We are not ready yet, as a church, to open our eyes and see what's happening. We need to be accountable."
The report says, "Although there are child protection policies within the Church in India, there is a reluctance to implement them. The draft Child Protection Policy] is at the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India-level, but "the bishops and superiors have to implement it, and not many are serious about doing so. They always want to 'manage' things."
Fr Alla
Asserting that it's this attitude that has "caused problems" for the Church, the report says, "When India's Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, declared victory for the second time in the general elections this year, a sense of unease engulfed the country's minority communities, who make up 18.2% of the country's population. Since 2014, under Modi's watch, religious persecution rose.
"Christians in India have been active contributors to its education system. But in an atmosphere of growing right-wing fundamentalism, Catholic educational institutions have come under attack. They often face criticism and are accused of proselytism", Salvadore believes.
"State level anti-conversion laws have been enacted to regulate conversions to other religions. These laws are now used to harass Christians, and divide and polarize people", the report says, adding, "Studies have shown that the number of Christians in India has gone down from 2.5% to 2.3%. There is absolutely no truth to the claim of forced proselytization." It claims, "Some people convert on their own accord, but there's no forced proselytization."
According to the report, "In the past few years, Christians in the country's Hindi heartland have been facing a series of attacks from Hindu extremists. More recently, outright violence has taken a backseat, and coordinated efforts are in place to shut down institutions."
"A recent example is the police raid conducted at the home of Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy, a prominent human rights activist. Swamy, a critic of the government, has been an advocate of indigenous people undergoing trials who he said were falsely accused and imprisoned for protesting violations of their constitutional rights", it underlines.
However, Salvadore quotes Alla to dismiss the idea that the current BJP government is particularly harsh on Christian minorities. "To be fair, Christians have suffered under other political parties as well. And it's not just this government BJP." Citing examples of missionaries being deported from India during the 1960s and 1970s under "secular" Congress, Alla adds, however, that the present situation is a lot "different and difficult."
"With the BJP government's implicit support of its fringe elements, lynchings against minorities in India, especially Muslims, have increased drastically since Modi came into power for the second time. Data shows that 90% of religious hate crimes in India in the past decade have occurred under the Modi government. In most cases, despite overwhelming evidence, the accused have walked free", the article says.
Lamenting that Church leaders have been "measured in their response", Salvadore says, "They've often reached out to Modi in an effort to build bridges", even though BJP has been accusing the Church for being anti-Modi and encouraging Catholics to vote along communal lines. "Though the church is supposed to be apolitical, there are times when priests do make their political leanings public."

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.