Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Courage and Conversion

Just saw this piece by Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute, on the conversion of Magdi Allan (blogged about earlier here and here). Kishore is a convert to the Catholic faith (he grew up Hindu), and was also baptized by the Pope (in his case, John Paul II). He shares his support for Allam, as well as for freedom of conscience, and talks about his experience going to Catholic schools growing up in the US.

He also defends the track record of Catholics schools. In some parts of the world (in the Muslim world, as well as in India), they are attacked as places where people are brainwashed.
My Hindu parents attended Catholic and Christian schools in India and sent their children to the same in the United States. I was the only non-Christian in my entire school. I attended all the religion classes and weekly Masses, but I was never asked, let alone pressured, to convert, though this is a charge often made against Catholic schools worldwide. As with Allam, this experience not only taught me the fundamental beliefs of the Church but displayed the love and service lived by religious, priests, and laity at my schools. While I am sure all of them desired and would have welcomed my conversion, they knew the Church cannot force belief on anyone. I would have to come to my own decision, led by grace as well as the good example of others.
My own experience of Catholic schools in India is similar: there, the majority of students are not Christian; non-Christians don't even take part in catechism (we got a generic treatment of ethics, called "Moral Science"), I only got to Mass because I enrolled in the choir, and the Church tries its best to avoid even the hint of overt-proselytism. (The fact that often the Church in India -- as elsewhere -- goes to the extreme of insisting that non-Christians don't, as a matter of principle, need baptism, is a separate conversation, often talked about here.)

Good job, Kishore!

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