NEW DELHI, India, JAN. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi has indicated that Catholic education in India isn't about proselytism.Well obviously, not everyone who goes through the portals of a Catholic school ends up Catholic. Some do. Such as yours truly. Not because anyone consciously tried or forced me to, I should add. Besides, the Archdiocese required that I make a notarized affidavit that I was becoming Catholic of my own free will, and had not been offered any incentives or enticements. "Conversion" is quite an incendiary topic in India. Literally.
"The Catholic Church believes in empowering people and in nation-building through education," said the cardinal during a recent press conference.
The cardinal, who is president of the bishops' conference of India, was addressing the topic on which the episcopate's next General Assembly will focus: "Catholic Education and the Church's Concern for the Marginalized."
On that occasion, Bangalore will be host to the biannual meeting, scheduled for Feb. 8-15.
During the press conference last Saturday, Cardinal Toppo, 66, was asked to respond to the allegation that, from the religious point of view, the Church converts people through education.
"If that were true, the BJP leader, St. Patrick's School alumnus Mr. L.K. Advani, would have been converted," he noted. BJP, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is India's Hindu nationalist opposition party.
The Catholic Church in India runs some 20,000 educational institutions, 66% of which are in rural areas. Of the 6.3 million who study in Catholic institutions, 77% are non-Catholics, according to the bishops' conference.
Catholic institutions have also contributed greatly to the education of girls in India, "which is also a national priority," said a bishops' conference communiqué. Fifty-five percent of girls, as contrasted with 45% of boys, study in Catholic schools and colleges in the country.
Brings to mind something that the Holy Father just wrote:
A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 Jn4:8) and that God's presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love. He knows—to return to the questions raised earlier—that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike; it is an attempt to do without God. Consequently, the best defence of God and man consists precisely in love. It is the responsibility of the Church's charitable organizations to reinforce this awareness in their members, so that by their activity—as well as their words, their silence, their example—they may be credible witnesses to Christ.One of those many "wow" moments in this encyclical. The best defence of God and man consists precisely in love. This brings such richness and light on that ancient maxim (from St. Augustine, wasn't it?), ama et fac quod vis?!