Pope Francis's theme of "Fraternity as the foundation and pathway to peace" and his message for peace are very relevant to India today. Fraternity is urgently needed to herald sustainable peace, development and progress in our country.
national pledge, we pledge that "All Indians are my brothers and sisters. As the
Holy Father indicates, 'the Fatherhood of God can be seen as the basis of
fraternity, this is our national pledge. All Indians are brothers and sisters and
we are all children of the same father. Regrettably, the prevailing ethos of
mass culture enshrines money as the supreme value. This results in mass poverty
and social inequality.
The Holy Father
cautions against the "globalisation of indifference" that makes us blind "to
the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves."
directly to the situation in India, where the gap between the rich and the poor
and between rural and urban society is increasing. It is a matter of utter
shame that over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.
The same is true
for women, whose inferior status leads to increasing female foeticide and
horrific practices and abuses against the girls and women, and other despicable
evils against life.
Our sense of fraternity
extends to Dalit Christians and all our brothers and sisters in India, under
the Fatherhood of God, so that discrimination may end and they may receive the
privileges that others have. We are concerned about this and hope that with
God's grace everything will come right.
In 2014, we have
general elections, and the pope's call for fraternity becomes even more
significant. We are all Indians, and we share a common heritage with our common
Fatherhood in God. Our politicians must place the well-being of the whole
nation before their personal, party and petty interests.
The Holy Father
states that indifference brings with it "offences against fundamental human
rights, especially the right to life and the right to religious freedom."
an intrinsic part of Indian culture, yet religions laws seek to stifle the right
to religious freedom, which is enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
against religious beliefs, or discredit religious practices is tantamount to exclusion
contrary to respect for fundamental human dignity that will eventually
destabilise society by creating a climate of tension, intolerance, opposition,
and suspicion, which are not conducive to social peace and can become
detrimental to the progress of our beloved country.
Seen in this
light, fraternity is the foundation and pathway to peace. Whatever traditions
we belong to, we are brothers and sisters of the same family; therefore, the
importance of understanding, dialogue and trying to reach out to others can make
a better world. It is essential for us in India to fight the three evils of
communalism, the caste system and corruption, which pose a constant threat to
our beloved motherland India.
For each of us
brothers and sisters of our great motherland India, I, as President of the
Catholic Bishops Conference of India, pray that each one of us Indians has the
spirit of fraternity and be led, in the words of the Upanishads, 'from untruth
to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality" (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.3.28).