Statement by the Executive Committee of FORUM of Religious for Justice & Peace
We, the Executive Committee members of the FORUM of Religious for Justice and Peace met at the Divyakarunya Ashram, from 23- 25 March 2023. During a highly participative meeting, we took stock of the many different involvements and other interventions of the FORUM – nationally and regionally – since the last Exco meeting which was held at Hyderabad in September 2022.
We deliberated and discerned several critical issues which currently affect the Country and the Church! We are shocked by the recent statement made by Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry, given wide coverage by all sections of the media. According to media reports, “Archbishop Pamplany assured to extend support to BJP if the union government raises the price of rubber to Rs 300. Addressing the protest rally of the Catholic Congress at Alakode in Kannur, the bishop said that the archdiocese would help the BJP in Kerala and will overcome the situation of the BJP not having an MP from the state.”
Coming from a member of the hierarchy, such ‘assurances’ are unacceptable, deeply regrettable and bound to have serious long-term repercussions. Fascist, fundamentalist and fanatic forces are inimical to the Constitution of India, to the intrinsic values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, to its democratic ethos and the secular fabric of the country. Through its insidious divide-and-rule strategies, BJP makes inroads into all sections of society, including among Christians. This was experienced recently in the elections held in three North Eastern States and earlier, in Goa. Its blatant posturing and preparations for forthcoming elections in Karnataka and other states and the National elections of 2024 are indicative of its goal: the establishment of a state based on the ‘Hindutva’ ideology.
The reality is grim! For those espoused to the Hindutva ideology, any citizen who stands up for truth and justice, including human rights defenders and media personnel are, regarded as ‘anti-national’, hounded and harassed, incarcerated and killed; minorities (particularly the Muslims and Christians) are demonized and denigrated, attacked and jailed. This has been the cruel experience every Sunday for the evangelists and followers of evangelist Christian communities in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka etc.; at the receiving end of a brutal and unjust system are the Adivasis and Dalits, fisher-folk, small farmers, migrant workers and the unemployed, the poor and other vulnerable sections of society.
Sadly, in these troubled times, the Church in India does not play the prophetic role which is expected from her on behalf of the suffering in our country; a large section of the hierarchy, clergy and religious are frightened to take a stand for truth and justice.
Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ
Media Cell In-Charge of FORUM