Dalit Liberation Sunday on 9th Dec’12

December 1, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Theme: Break the Barriers -Build the World of Equality

Dalit Liberation Sunday on 9th Dec'12  New Delhi, November 29, 2012: The Catholic Church of India along with the Reformative churches in India (National Council of Churches in India-NCCI) celebrates Dalit Liberation Sunday every year in December adjacent to the Human rights Day. This year on 9th December 2012 Sunday we celebrate the Dalit Liberation Sunday on the theme “Break the Barriers -Build the World of Equality”. Dalit Liberation Sunday is an occasion for the whole Christian community to renew its responsibility toward the sisters and brothers of Dalit origin especially the Christians of Scheduled caste origin who suffer the social discrimination, poverty, educational backwardness arising out of the traditional practice of untouchability.

Even after many years of independence the practice of untouchability continues in the Indian society in many forms. Our Christian community is not an exception to this phenomenon. Since Christians form part of the larger caste ridden society the social discrimination of Dalit Christians also continues in the new environment of Christian religion.

“The prevalence of the caste-based practices, not only in society but also in some parts of the Church in India even at the close of the 20th century, is a matter of shame and disgrace to all of us. It is a cause of sorrow and expression of our inability to live our Christian faith adequately. It is not only a denial of human dignity and equality, but also against the fundamental teachings of Christ…” (The Statement of the CBCI Varanasi, March 21-28, 1998)

The denial of the Constitutional rights to the Dalit Christians is another long pending issue of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. Since Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are not included in the Scheduled Caste list they lose the affirmative action in education, employment, economic development, legal protection and political reservation. The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) order 1950 paragraph 3 excludes Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims has been challenged in the Supreme court since this order is against the secular nature of the country (Preamble of the Constitution), equality before the law (article 14), discrimination on the basis of religion (Article 15) and Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion (Article 25). This year on August 1st there was a big rally and demonstration in which many people, Bishops, priests and nuns participated. On August 10th on which the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) order 1950 was signed was observed as black day throughout India by the Christian community. I appreciate and thank all those who were involved in all these activities and all those who supported this issue. Our demand is that the UPA Government should file its reply to the Supreme Court without any delay.

In his address at the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on Oct. 8, 2012 Pope Benedict on the theme  ‘The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith’ said “we cannot speak about the new evangelization without a sincere desire for conversion. The best path to the new evangelization is to let ourselves be reconciled with God and with each other (cf. 2 Cor 5:20). Solemnly purified, Christians can regain a legitimate pride in their dignity as children of God, created in his image and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and they can experience his joy in order to share it with everyone, both near and far.”

On the theme ‘The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith’ let us remind ourselves of the words of Blessed John Paul II “Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission of evangelisation.” (Address of Pope John Paul II, to the Bishops of India, on their “AD LIMINA” Visit, Date, Monday, 17 November 2003).

Thus new Evangelization for the Transmission of Faith in the Indian situation cannot be done without the conversion to break the barriers of caste and build a community with equality and justice. Let this Dalit Liberation Sunday motivate each and every one of us to commit ourselves to build a world of equality, peace and justice.

– a. neethinathan

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