Monday, December 03, 2007

Tribal Christians show the way to womens rights | Spero News

Tribal Christians show the way to womens rights | Spero News So says Cardinal Telesphore Toppo (India's first Cardinal from the tribal peoples) at a gathering in Ranchi, the capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand.
"No one on this earth has shown respect, love and concern for women more than Jesus of Nazareth", declared Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo, President of the Catholic Council of India (CCI) at the inauguration of the 9th general body that flagged off at St. Albert's College Auditorium in Ranchi, Jharkhand today.

Cardinal Toppo addressing the delegates from all over India, on the theme of the meeting namely, 'Empowerment of Women in the Church and Society', said "We Jesus' followers in the world are still struggling to face gender inequality, exploitation of the weaker sex, trafficking of women and girls, and we do not know how many female foeticide".

"However the Church stands for the basic equality in human dignity and makes every effort to promote it", he told a packed auditorium which included about 250 delegates of various national and regional bodies of Catholic organizations in the country.

"Through proper evangelization and systematic catechesis of our people," we would be able to lessen inequality and discrimination, added Cardinal Toppo.
Meanwhile, ENI reports that Catholic leaders, including Bishops, held a sit-in near Parliament in New Delhi, to protest continuing caste-discrimination against dalits.
INDIA-DALITS Nov-30-2007 (390 words) With photo. xxxi Indian bishops protest discrimination against Christian dalits By Anto Akkara Catholic News Service NEW DELHI (CNS) -- More than three dozen Indian bishops joined priests, nuns and church activists at a sit-in to demand an end to the decades-old discrimination against Christian dalits, or members of India's low castes. "This is denial of freedom of religion," said Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Gandhinagar, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. The archbishop addressed the crowd Nov. 29 in New Delhi near the Indian Parliament. "Dalit," which means "trampled upon" in Sanskrit, refers to low castes who are treated as untouchables under India's caste system. The title allows them to perform jobs such as scavenging. Christian dalits, who account for at least 60 percent of the 25 million Christians in India, are denied the 15 percent of spots reserved for Hindi, Sikh and Buddhist dalits in educational institutions and government jobs, and Christian dalits do not get the free education that other dalits receive. Muslim dalits face the same discrimination. "Freedom of religion is denied to the (dalit) people who might want to convert because of this persecution," said Archbishop Fernandes. Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Chennai, former chairman of the Indian bishops' Dalit Commission, said, "The fact we have gathered here to protest this (discrimination) shows that caste discrimination is a social reality." Archbishop Chinnappa, who is a dalit, asked "why international agencies like the United Nations were keeping quiet on this." While nuns held placards saying "Stop Oppressing Dalit Christians" throughout the four-hour sit-in, enthusiastic dalit activists from the southern Tamil Nadu state shouted slogans demanding justice. The speeches of dozens of church leaders stopped with Catholic priests in cassocks staging a traditional drum-beating dance. Drum beating is a profession of dalits. "The moment you carry a drum like this, others will take it for granted that you are a dalit," Father Swamikunnu Parivalan, youth director of the Madurai Archdiocese, told Catholic News Service after one drum-beating dance. Father Parivalan said that "caste discrimination is a social reality from which no dalit can get away." Jayaraj Jaganathan, a Catholic social worker from the Kumbakonam Diocese, told CNS that he was excited by the presence of so many bishops to highlight the Christian dalit cause. However, Jaganathan added that the church leaders could have shown "greater leadership and commitment to the dalit cause" in the past.

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