Patna Archbishop: Church cannot be silent in the face of discrimination

Patna Archbishop: Church cannot be silent in the face of discrimination

Patna, Bihar: The Catholic archbishop of Patna has finally broken his silence, and in a pastoral letter to Catholics in Patna Archdiocese has made it clear that the Church stands for the fundamental principles of the Constitution and a non-discriminatory and humane policy towards refugees.

Preparations are underway for a stand -in and candlelight demonstration in support of Constitutional values at Patna. United Christian Forum, a collective of leading churches is organizing the campaign to express the concern of the Christian community over what is seen as the attempts to erode the fundamental values of the Indian Constitution. The demonstration is scheduled for the evening of March 14.

Archbishop William D’Souza SJ

Earlier this week, a pastoral letter from Catholic Archbishop William D’Souza was read out in most Catholic parishes.

The Archbishop, in the letter expressed his ‘concern over the current situation in the country’, while recalling the ‘sterling role of the Church in nation building, and affirming the plural culture, identities, and constitutional values.

The letter, in Hindi touched upon the incidents and events stemming from the CAA, NRC, and NPR issues that have seized the country. “Today, our country is passing through deep troubles. There are continual attacks on the values of . democracy, social justice, and equality. Police unleash violence on people who protest peacefully against the decisions of the government; there are violent attacks on democracy and the free expression of ideas. the use of violent and insulting language hurts mutual brotherhood and the dignity of human beings. It is sad that such language is being used publicly. The growing economic disparity and inequality is contrary to the values enshrined in the Constitution.”

Every day there are deeper efforts to dismantle the fundamental structure of the our Constitution. The government amended Citizenship Act (CAA), National register of Citizens (NRC) and national Population record (NPR) have exposed the country to danger. Over the past two months, all over India, students, young people and ordinary citizens have been expressing their opposition . Intellectuals, scientists, artists, and common people have been, in various ways, appealing for the withdrawal of CAA, NRC, NPR.

In general it is being said that these are divisive and prejudicial steps that will definitely have harmful and negative effects on our pluralistic and multicultural democracy. It is also said that these will have far reaching harm to dalits, adivasis, minorities and those who live on the margins.”

In the letter the Archbishop exhorted the faithful to

  1. To take steps to increase knowledge and understanding of the CAA, NRC and NPR, and hold discussions, meetings etc. on the issue.
  2. Understand that the protection of the values of the Indian Constitution is a primary duty. take steps to strengthen the feeling of fraternity and brotherhood among people , especially neighbours.
  3. Support brothers and sisters in their efforts to safeguard the values of the Constitution.
  4. If the need is felt to take part in peaceful protests and demonstrations against CAA, NPR, NRC, then do so.
  5. The Church stands in support of humane national policy for refugees, and it is for this reason it cannot support the CAA in its present form, as it is discriminatory in nature. The church also cannot extend its support to the NRC and NPR.

The Archbishop concludes the letter reminding us that it is the duty of every citizen to protect the fundamental principles upon which the country stands. ‘It is our duty to towards the nation-your and mine’, he writes.

“I pray that the Ganga of peace, brotherhood and sisterhood, and fraternity will keep flowing and that our country will forever tread on the path of equality and justice to all. May Gandhiji’s message of truth and non-violence enlighten the path. May God have mercy on us all.”


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