EFI calls upon India to observe international obligations on human rights

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Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of India

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell

New Delhi, October 1, 2012: EFI calls upon India to observe international obligations on human rights; regrets India’s negative stance at UNHRC Universal Periodic review on Communal Violence Prevention legislation, Dalit Christians, and recalling so called “Freedom of Religion Acts” by States.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India welcomes the Indian Government’s assurances of its commitment to Human Rights and specially the Rights of Religious and other minorities, reiterated its Universal Periodic Review under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council at its sessions from March to September 2012 at Geneva. The EFI however deeply regrets that the Government has deliberately ignored urgent international and entreaties for an early enactment of laws against communal and targetted violence, an abrogation of the so called Freedom of Religion legislation several states, and accepting the long-pending demand of Dalit Christians for their Constitutional rights.
The Indian and global human rights activists’ community has noted that the Government of India’s response to the 169 recommendations of the UNHRC reflected a pattern of only accepting recommendations that were generalized and broadly worded, lacking a targeted course of action directed to tackle discrimination and specific human rights challenges. Recommendations pertaining to specific as well as serious human rights issues were rejected, despite the Council’s expressed concern.
It is widely regretted that India has not accepted recommendations asking to create a comprehensive framework to deal effectively with the particular circumstances of communal or targeted violence. The government says communal violence is only a sporadic problem. We religious minorities contest this argument as we continue to be violently attacked in a number of states. As we have seen in Kandhamal and Karnataka specially, victims are also not able to access justice. And this situation, we fear, will continue to be repeated in future unless some immediate steps are taken by the government to prevent and pre-empt acts of communal violence.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India therefore most respectfully urges the government to bring forth the Bill on prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence, including issues of compensation rehabilitation, and reparation, at the earliest. We note that such a Bill was drafted by the National Advisory Council in 2011 and given to the government. This Bill should be taken out of cold storage, refined in consonance with principles of federalism, and enacted as law to effectively bring an end to communal strife which has ravaged this country in the last six decades.
The EFI also urges the Government to take necessary legislative and legal steps to recall the so called Freedom of Religion Acts promulgated in several states. These Acts are being used to harass and intimidate religious minorities, and in particular the Christian Community and their pastors, house churches and community gatherings.
Above all, the EFI calls upon the government to grant Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians as recommended by the Justice Rangnath Misra Commission, the National Commission of Minorities and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. Not giving Dalit Christians this status amounts to discrimination on grounds of religion and denial of Freedom of religion to India’s Dalits.
Ending such discrimination and taking steps to pre-empt communal violence will go a long way in burnishing India’s image internationally as a secular democracy which is a haven for religious minorities, dreamt of by Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
– rev. dr. richard

Pope: There may be something Catholic, even outside the Catholic Church

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Catholic, Christian, Church, newsletter-lead, Vatican, World

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Pope: There may be something Catholic, even outside the Catholic ChurchVatican, September 30, 2012:  Christians should not be jealous of the good that is done outside of the Catholic Church. Instead, the good that is done by the various ecclesial realities within the Church should be respected and appreciated. Using wealth “in solidarity and for the common good, ensuring equality and morality, at all levels.” Appeal for refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tomorrow the Pope returns to the Vatican.

“Just as one can find that which is not Catholic in the Catholic Church – that is, in the Church -, one can also find something that may be Catholic outside of the Catholic Church “: this quote from St. Augustine (On Baptism, Against the Donatists: PL 43 , VII, 39, 77) was at the center of reflection that Benedict XVI offered to pilgrims gathered today in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo during the Angelus. The Pope – as he often does – was referring to the episode narrated in the Gospel of the Sunday Mass (Mark 9: 39-41): “a man, who was not the followers of Jesus had cast out demons in his name. The Apostle John, young and zealous, wants to stop him, but Jesus will not allow him. ”

“Jesus – continues the pope – is inspired by the opportunity to teach his disciples that God can bring about good and even miraculous things, even outside of their circle, and that one can cooperate with the Kingdom of God in several ways, even by offering a simple glass of water to a missionary (v. 41). ”

Thus Benedict XVI underlined the “ecumenical” teaching of Jesus in our time: “Church members should not feel jealous, but rejoice if someone from outside the community does well in the name of Christ, provided this is done with right intention and with respect “. At the same time, he insisted that often jealousy and the desire to block the action of someone also exist within the Church: “Even within the Church it – he added – it can sometimes happen that one can have difficulty in appreciating and recognizing, in a spirit of profound communion, the good things done by the various ecclesial realities. Instead we should all be able to always appreciate and respect each other, praising the Lord for the infinite ‘fantasy’ with which he acts in the Church and in the world. ”

The pope also commented on the second reading of today’s Mass, taken from the Letter of St. James, which concerns “the invective… against the dishonest rich, who put their trust in the riches accumulated by dint of abuse” (cf. Jas 5.1 to 6).

“The words of the Apostle James – said the pope – while they warn against the vain desire for material goods, are also a powerful call to use them in the perspective of solidarity and the common good, always acting with fairness and morality, at all levels “.

After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for the situation in Congo-Kinshasa, an African country with a large Catholic community, characterized by abundant natural resources, but also highly unstable in political and ethnic terms. In a series of recent developments, the UN has accused Rwanda of supporting guerrilla groups within the borders of Congo. “I follow with affection and concern – said the pope – the situation of the people in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in these days the object of a high-level meeting at the United Nations. I am particularly close to refugees, to the women and children, who because of persistent armed clashes undergo suffering, violence and deep distress. I invoke God, for peace paths of dialogue, protection for these innocent people so that peace, based on justice, may soon be restored and for the restoration of fraternal coexistence for this sorely tried population, as well as the entire region. ”

The pope also bid farewell to the faithful at Castel Gandolfo, because tomorrow he returns to take up residency in the Vatican.

– asianews