Friday, May 19, 2006

Pope to Indian Ambassador: religious freedom is paramount!

Via Zenit, the Holy Father's speech to the new Indian Ambassador to the Holy See.
I very much appreciate your reference to India's rich spiritual heritage and commitment to religious tolerance and respect. In view of this commitment, no citizen of India, especially the weak and the underprivileged, should ever have to experience discrimination for any reason, especially based on ethnic or religious background or social position. The recent re-establishment of the National Integration Council and the creation this year of the Ministry for Minority Affairs offer practical means of upholding constitutionally guaranteed equality of all religions and social groups.

While protecting the right of each citizen to profess and practice his or her faith, they also facilitate efforts to build bridges between minority communities and Indian society as a whole, and thus foster national integration and the participation of all in the country's development. The disturbing signs of religious intolerance which have troubled some regions of the nation, including the reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom, must be firmly rejected as not only unconstitutional, but also as contrary to the highest ideals of India's founding fathers, who believed in a nation of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance between different religions and ethnic groups.
(Emphasis Added). A clear reference to the various attempts to pass so-called "anti-conversion" laws in various Indian states. And then, to conclude:
Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved Indian people, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Thank you, Holy Father! :)


Anonymous said...

The Ambassador should have said, convert to hinduism instead of Pope saying him

"Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved Indian people, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God."

Pope is ignorant he doesnt know what is he saying after coming fold of hinduism, he would have peace of mind.

Gashwin said...

Oh dear -- maybe our anonymous commenter just exemplifies why the Holy Father's call for true religious freedom is so important.

Besides, I didn't know one could conver to Hinduism (pace the Arya Samaj). We're all mlecchas after all ... :-D

Trip said...

dear gashwin, the proposed laws only seek to stop conversion by cheating and influence. These practices bring shame to Him, just the same was child molestation in Churches does. We must support the law that tries to stop these bad practices. This is no different from an anti corruption law.

Gashwin said...

Trip -- thanks for stopping by. I wish I could be as sanguine as you about the intent of anti-conversion laws. In my understanding, given the controversial nature of conversion as a whole within Indian culture (just read Gandhi, for instance), any conversion will be presumed to be induced or forced.

Yes I agree, any kind of a forced conversion is a travesty of the Gospel.

The problem really is that, well, the whole idea of religious conversion seems to be virulently anathema to many Indians.

Then there's the whole area of caste and power politics as well.

[Though, I must say, if anti-conversion laws were the same as anti-corruption ones, no one would mind. We all know just how well the anti-corruption laws are enforced! :)]

trip said...

How well laws are enforced is a different topic. It applies to all the laws. its a social issue in India.

However, this is what the book Haqeeqat has to say abt hinduism. If a law tries to stop such books and such practices to discredit other religions, we have no reason to oppose. In fact, pope's sermon is nothing but intereference in internal matters of a sovereign secuar state. India has democratic processes to handle the grievances of its people, and most people have many grievances. However, pope, who is not only a religious leader, but also a head of state should not interfere in the process. while the process is working, foreign meddling is not welcome.its not a case of burning that man at the stake, its just the law of the land taking its course and all the avenues are open to all concerned.

"Hindu gods and goddesses are fictitious and were invented to persecute Dalits" (Page 9).

* "To prevent indigenous people from acquiring knowledge, Saraswati invented difficult Vedas (which nobody can understand)". (Page 16)

* "With the progression of time, people all over the world (except India) were freed of their ignorance and they began to disown wicked and cruel gods and goddesses. But in India, because people are (enveloped) in the darkness of ignorance, imaginary gods and goddesses are still worshipped." (Page 17)

* "Naked sanyasis are worshipped by (Hindu) women. The moment (Hindu) women see naked sanyasis, they fall on the ground and prostrate themselves before the sanyasis. (Hindu) women pour water on the sanyasis' penises and then happily drink that water. Ling Devata is gratified when he sees all these repulsive things and feels empowered... These people are ignorant and do not know the difference between what is right and wrong." (Page 93)

* "Sita was abandoned in the forest as per Ram's wishes... Ram later asked Lakshman to kill Sita. In the end, Ram frustrated with life, drowned himself in Saryu. Such are the teachings of half-naked rishis who are praised by Hindutvawadis." (Page 100)

* "Lord Shiva, to get people to worship him, dropped his penis on Earth (Devi), shaking the ground and the sky! ... . Poor Dharti Devi was shaken by the weight of his penis. Seeing this, all the Gods were scared. It seems Gods would use their penises as bombs! Whenever and wherever they wanted to, they would drop their 'penis bombs' to terrorise the people. Thus, they were able to enslave the people... But compared to foreign bombs, these penis bombs were a damp squib." (Page 106-107)

* "(Ramakrishna) Paramahansa should have known that Ganga is the world's filthiest and dirtiest river. How many dead bodies float down this river every day? How many half-burnt dead bodies are dumped into it every day? And Hindus call it the holy river! In fact, all the rivers of India are dirty and polluted... Hindutvawadis pollute the rivers... and then depend on their false Gods to cleanse them..." (Page 122-123)

* "(For Hindus) men can be Gods, women can be Goddesses... animals are gods, snakes are gods... they (Hindu Gods) fight among themselves, marry among themselves, throw out their wives, run away with others' wives, they steal, get intoxicated, drink blood, are reincarnated as animals, fish and tortoise, some of them can lift mountains... Some Gods are in same-sex relationships and are yet able to produce babies. These Gods and Goddesses are always armed because they believe in killing and plunder. Some Gods think their penises are more powerful than nuclear bombs. Others like animals live naked among their followers. Some of them spend their time in yogic exercises, others are in samadhi and happy to see the number of blind followers swell... You can wash away your sins by worshipping the penises of Gods" (Page 146)

* "How could Arya Hindus bring Aryanisation on this earth. To be Arya, one has to be born of an Arya womb... If Arya Hindus want to bring Aryanisation then they must lend or rent out all Arya wombs to non-Aryans. Non-Aryans should be given Brahmin women so that children are born from Brahmin womb" (Page 182-183).

* "In modern India, many Ramas of this belief are living a carefree life. They marry several times, desert their wives, marry several times, and leave them. Many Ramas kill their Sitas. They are following their God Rama." (Page 269)

* "(Lord) Krishna had a despicable sex life... Shri Krishna is famous because of his love life. He had 16,008 wives. And all Yadav women were his illegitimate lovers. (Hindu) women are drawn towards him because of pornographic and vulgar tales of his sex life." (Page 391)

Gashwin said...

Trip --- thanks for your lengthy comment. I don't think we're talking the same language here really, and I doubt we're approaching the issue (of conversion, or religious freedom) from the same perspective at all.

The example you give is truly problematic. However, a democractic country should not respond to such drivel by censorship. Nor is this book (pamphlet) in any way representative of Catholic teaching, for one, or, I would suspect of most Christians either.

I didn't read anything in what the Pope said in his speech to the ambassador (it wasn't a sermon) as either promoting or tolerating such nonsense. To call his speech "interference" is ludicrous. "Interference" simply means that one doesn't like what someone is saying. It's the language the totalitarian regime of China uses all the time with respect to the Catholic Church, for instance.

Religion is a trans-national issue, and one that predates the whole idea of the nation-state. The Pope has every right to talk about religious freedom, in India, in the US, anywhere. Whether the Indian government or the Indian people listen is another matter. In a generally civilized world, one responds to things one disagrees with in a rational, reasonable manner, not by calling for censorship or aggrieved whines about "interference."

trip said...

Dear Gashwin,

One does get annoyed when one does not like what is being said. thats a simple fact. that does not mean what is being said is right. If the head of India tried to tell Bush to take care of its colored population more, it is interference, as the state of USA has not failed. Secondly, for all we know, may be the US govt IS taking care of its colored ppl. that makes it also incorrect, in addition to interference. If a law is passed in India telling the Indian church to change its working style, its interference. A law is passed in India protecting others from wrong doing by some missionaries, its not interference or persecution. Pls note, the law does not ban any catholic teaching, nor does it ban conversion as being complained.

On freedom of religion, when i won't allow others to build a place of worship in my land, but will preach others on religious freedom, its also hypocrisy. Do not say there are no hindus in vatican, we are talking abt conversion here, not worship. also understand the difference between the authority of God, which is greater than India's constitution, but the authority of church is not.

On Indians -
In democracy, not everything happens to your liking. When something like that happens, holding India's credentials hostage internationally, is very disturbing. Its possible to challenge the law in courts, instead getting pope to pressurize India in a most inappropriate way is also very annoying.

take for example, India telling vatican that their views on abortion are anti womens' rights and against the highest principles of freedom and equality, is still interference, even though factual. But we can grant these rights in India, as an independent state.

On the malice -
Even more enraging is the factual mistakes of what pope said. That its unconstitutional and against what the founding fathers wanted. The validity of these laws is upheld by the supreme court. the court said that you have the right to practice your religion but not to malign others'. seems reasonable. as for founding fathers, you probably are aware of Gandhi's views on conversion.

On freedon of speech-
And what has been uncivil abt India's response? did we riot? killed ppl? people made comments but thats legal in India. So is censorship on material hurting people. Rushdi's novel was banned. The church was foremost in wanting to get Da Vinci banned!!! why a different yardstick? are you for unlimited freedom of expression? if so, you should distance yourself from the church, as its against it. just take a consistent stand.

Lastly, religion is trans national only as a spiritual concept, not as a political concept.

Gashwin said...

Trip, I don't even know where to start to address the conflation of issues you have brought together here.

But for one, what on earth does it mean to say that the Pope was pressured into mentioning this to the Indian Ambassador? He's not a puppet. No one asked him to say this. He said it of his own accord because this is what he sees as is important.

To criticize the Vatican, a 12-acre territory, for "not allowing" a Hindu temple to be built is ludicrious. Has anyone asked a Hindu temple to be built there? Are there not Hindu temples in Rome? The Vatican has a tiny population and the comparison is not at all valid.

Incidentally, I'd be as critical of any attempt to ban the Da Vinci Code as I would of anything else. I think censorship of political or religious ideas, howsoever offensive they might seem to the mainstream, is abhorrent. I don't know what the Church in India has said about DVC, but here the response has been robust, challenging the factual innacuracies, and so on.

I will also add that I only reported (and supported) what the Holy Father said. And in my experience, anti-conversion laws, the way they are worded and enforced in India are designed to do one thing --- to intimidate and impede the work of Christians, which is seen only as a foreign influence and in terms of "spiritual violence." To deny that this is a time of persecution of the Indian Church is, in my opinion, to be wilfully blind.

As to distance myself from the Church ... ? I don't know what that means --- I don't agree with everything a church official might say or do, but I am a Christian, and a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ... to cut myself off from the living Body of Christ would be suicide. The Church is not just an institution --- she is my spiritual home and my mother.

Anyway --- we're talking past each other here. It's a time of major transition in my life and I'm afraid I don't have the energy to devote to this discussion at this point.

I do have one request: this book "Haqeeqat" -- this is the first I've heard of it. Where can one find out more or obtain a copy?

Best to you and yorus.

trip said...

EMI, Kota

I wrote abt Vatican and temple to prove how irritating factless allegations are. Glad you got the point.

trip said...

where did i say Pope was pressured? i think you read in a hurry.

all the best in whatever you are doing. disappointed that no facts came out of all the writing I did, just philosophy and sermons...