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Greater protection for the Christian minority

· A conversation with the Archbishop of Bangalore on the “ad limina” visit ·

Greater protection for the Christian minority, increased mutual understanding with other religions, support for the marginalized to assure them of an adequate education encouraging emancipation.

These are the guidelines which Archbishop Bernard Blasius Moras of Bangalore suggested in order to overcome various conflicts which unfortunately characterize social and political life of the region. The Archbishop spoke to our newspaper on the occasion of the ad limina Apostolorum visit.

Several controversies have surrounded the publication of the report on the massacres of Christians in Karnataka, which acquits the civil authorities who were accused of connivance with the assailants. Can you explain the reasons for this dispute?

The report actually denied that there were any attacks at all. Meanwhile there are dozens of witnesses who confirm this. Moreover, how could one even think of hiding the truth about 223 acts of violence against Christians in all 29 districts of Karnataka? Another falsehood is the accusation that they were concocted by the Christians themselves, or caused by conversion to Catholicism and by the derogatory opinions expressed against the Hindu religion. In the report there is no indication of how the Government intends to combat these organized groups responsible for the attacks against Christians, nor is it endeavouring to identify those responsible. There are many conflicting elements in the report.

So the emergency for Christians continues?

The situation is an emergency. Even if both the Federal and State government, cannot admit this for political reasons. It would be sufficient if the governments were to defend, respect and honour the constitutional rights of Christians, stipulated in paragraph 25 the Constitution of India.

Would it have been best to insist upon dialogue between religions?

We are already doing this. We have campaigned for the institution of a different commission for religious dialogue. In many ecclesiastic circumscriptions this has already been done. We have also organized seminars and days of study on the theme of dialogue. I believe it would be useful to promote spiritual retreats and regular visits to churches, mosques and Hindu temples to foster mutual understanding.

Should interreligious dialogue also be promoted through the work of the Church in education?

Certainly. In fact, in order to ensure education to the masses, I believe it is necessary to put into practice immediately the final declaration of the General Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of India drawn up in 2007 in Bangalore. This document provided several guidelines for the dioceses. In particular it gave priority to Catholic children in school admission, but then permitting admission to all. It invited people to help our youth in preparing them to pass at least the university admission exam. It also instituted a fund for poor students in every diocese.

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