POLITICAL CHARITY IN THE CONTEXT OF INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

By Paul Bharati, CM[1]

Introduction:

From time immemorial, India has been a land of religious tolerance and it has been rich in culture, language, tradition and wisdom. It is also known for its Philosophy. The land of India had been receptive to various religions, such as, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Parsism and Jainism. It has been a land of religious co-existence. All these religions co-existed in a perfect manner and the people of India grew as one nation and as one people in spite of their differences in religion. Hinduism which is an ancient religion, by its very nature, it is a religion of tolerance and the people are also had the same nature. But over the years, the situation has been changed. Hinduism has been redefined by a group of people and fundamentalism has been crept into the minds of some people. The seed of fundamentalism has been sown in the soil of India and in some places it has already taken root and it is trying to take roots in some other places and in some places it is not yet spread. As a whole the Hindu fundamentalism is very much alive and no doubt it is catching like a wild fire.

Another alarming scenario is that the mixing of both religion and politics. After the independence, both religion and politics were kept apart. Over the years, both religion and politics are mixed. Religion has been used to capture votes and even the so called “secular parties” are using the religion in a subtle way to woo the voters of particular religions. In India, now the majority and minority feelings have been infiltered into the minds of people. The main cause for these changes is the emergence of Hindutva forces. The mindset and outlook of Hindu people is changing because of these Hindutva forces. Once, the Hindus had a positive and friendly attitude towards Christianity but now the Hindutva forces influencing the Hindus to have a negative and hostile attitude towards other religions especially Christianity and Islam. Once the Hindus considered Christians and Muslims are part of Indian nation and accepted as brothers and sisters, now they considered Christianity and Islam are alien forces which are threat to our country and to the Hinduism. Hence, they begin to threat both the religions in the form of violence, intimidation and harassment. They began to see India as Hindu nation. To achieve this goal, they want to have political power. Hence, they started mixing both religion and politics. In this context, what would be our role? What is our response to this situation? What would be our mission? Basing on these situations, I am trying to make theological reflections in this paper. I am making an attempt to highlight on the present scenario of the Indian politics and religion. I am also demonstrating in this paper, how the Hindutva forces emerged and what their present and future plan is, as far as politics and religion are concerned. The threat of fundamentalism is not only in India, in other countries too. Hence it is very appropriate and apt to reflect over our mission in the context of fundamentalism.

Methodology

In the second part of my paper, I throw some light on the methodology that I am adopting for my theological reflection. The starting point for our reflection is context and the context refers to life-situation. Our theological reflections should always begin from the context, not from the air. In other words, the concrete situation is the base for any theological reflection, not the abstract. Theological reflections should response to the life-situation of people, then only it becomes relevant and apt to people. Theological reflection emerges from the co-relation between life, the word of God and the tradition. Not relating the life-situation to our theological reflection which was basing only on the word of God and tradition, leads one to abstraction and eventually to meaninglessness and unrealistic mission. Our mission depends on the kind of theological reflection that we have. If we understand properly the scripture, the word of God itself is related to the life-situation of people. When we connect the context with the word of God, our theological reflection and mission becomes contextualized. The contextualized theology and mission is the actual response to the situation of people. Hence, both theology and mission are rooted in the life-situation of people. Contextualization is a response to a particular socio-political, religious and economic situation. It must be recognized that “Contextualization” is not simply a fad or a catchword but a theological necessity demanded by the incarnational nature of the word. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) is the basis for our contextual theology. These words remind us that the son of God was fully involved in the world. The incarnational nature of the word reminds us that we should be inserted into the situation of people. Contextuality is the capacity to respond meaningfully to the gospel within the frame work of one’s own situation.

The question is why we need to take the life-situation as basis and foundation for our theological reflection, why not only the gospel and tradition? Faith is lived in a concrete situation. Faith and life-situation are inseparable. Faith has a quest for the meaningfulness of life. The real faith always looks for a meaning that arises out of a situation. For instance, at the time of death and sickness in one’s life situation, faith tries to find meaning. Hence, there is a co-relation between faith and life. The meaning that emerges out of the co-relation shows in a way to continue living meaningfully. In the light of this meaning therefore we discern concrete ways of action in the world. Contextualization looks for a concrete action. It touches the problems of life. Here we don’t take the life of few, but the life of everyone.

After taking into consideration the context, which is the base for our theological reflection, we study the life-situation or the context in which we live, in an analytical way. In other words, we analyze the situation in a critical and objective way without any prejudice and bias. To study it in an analytical way, some times, we need to take recourse to other sciences, such as sociology, psychology, philosophy and political science. They do help us to understand problems that grip us.

After analyzing the context, we have to take recourse to the word of God and tradition. In this process, we reflect over the context and situation in the light of the word of God and tradition. Hence, a new theology arises out of particular context and situation. In this theological process, there is also an internal process takes places. While reflecting over the situation in the light of the word of God and tradition, there is transformation in one’s life. A transformation is needed in our way of thinking and attitude. We have the right thinking and attitude towards others, while getting rid of our biases and prejudices. We don’t stop with thinking alone but we make option for action. It is to be understood in the sense of mission. Our transformation is reflected in our action which is supposed to be our mission.

We already discussed in the introduction on the context in which we live in India. The Hindu fundamentalism is the present context which is threatening us and forcing us to rethink on our theological reflection and on our mission. The following diagram will explain it well our methodology.

Context: The emergence of Hindutva force in India

In simple term Hindutva means Hinduism that is the total aspect of “Hinduness”. It is to revive the Hindu culture, tradition and religious practices of Hindu and to imbibe a spirit of Hinduism to the people of Hindu religion. Hindutva is commonly identified with the guiding ideology of the Sangh Parivar (Family of associations), a family of Hindu nationalist organizations. The first Hindutva organization formed was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded in 1925. A prominent Indian political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is closely associated with a group of organizations that advocate Hindutva. They collectively refer to themselves as the “Sangh Parivar” or family of associations, which include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajarang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad. The major political wing is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which was in power in India’s central Government for six years from 1998 to 2004 and is now the main opposition party.

“One nation, one culture, one people and one leader” has become the dominant and fundamental slogan of the Sangh Parivar. Their fundmental argument is that the Hindus are a majority and hence they should exercise authority, precedence and domination over others. The Sangh Parivar’s slogan is aiming at bringing Christians and Muslims under the domination of Hindus. Their one nation theory always take recourse to history and warn the citizens that there are “hostile forces” or to state it in their own words “foreign hand” within and outside the country who are all out to destroy the national unity and pride. Hence, all should be united to face this threat. In this thought pattern the “other” the “enemy” is projected as ready to devour the entire nation, culture, economy and society and thus various segments are mobilized to face this ‘threat’.

Gleaning through historical records, one becomes aware of the fact that from 1980 onwards the Sangh Parivar has come to occupy a specific space in the society and polity of India. Till 1980, the Sangh Parivar, remained as an insignificant organization, being strong only in certain pockets of India, taking up some issues pertaining to Hindu culture and religion but without having a strong voice. From 1980 onwards, it started growing steadily. The peak moment of the Sangh Parivar was the demolition of Mosque at Ayodya in 1992. It took up the temple issue at Ayodya and stirred up the religious sentiment of the Hindu People. Ayodya issue was close to the heart of the Sangh Parivar. It took Ram to the people through symbols to which they could easily relate. Ram, Ayodya and the temple were thus brought close to the social and cultural life of the people. In doing so what the fundamentalist group has achieved is to identify itself with the cultural life of the Hindus and to project itself as the champion of their religion. After the demolition of Mosque at Ayodya, it won the hearts of Hindus in some parts of India and as a result the Sangh Parivar’s political wing, namely the Bharatiya Janata Bharty (BJP) captured power in some states of India and eventually it captured power at the center in 1998. During their rule, they were executing their hidden agenda of promoting Hindu nation by targeting the minorities, both Christians and Muslims.

Central Concepts of the Sangh Parivar

· The Indian Subcontinent is the homeland of the Hindus.

· “Hindus” are those who consider India to be their fatherland as well as their holy land

· Emphasizing historical oppression of Hindus by invading forces like the Muslims and

Christians and the call to “reverse” the influence resulting from these intrusions.

· Denunciation of British colonialism and communism alike for a perceived weakening of Hindus.

· The irredentist call for the establishment of a “Hindu Rashtra” to protect Hindus and to revive Hindu culture.

Views on other Faiths

The advocates of Hindutva often use the term Pseudo-Secularism to refer to laws which they believe are very favorable towards minorities. They point to the different standards for Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Hence they want a uniform civil code. The subject of a uniform civil code, which would remove special religion-based provisions for different religions (Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, etc) from the Indian constitution, is thus one of the main political planks of Hindutva.

Hindutva followers question differential laws in terms of marriage and divorce and ask why in a secular democracy Muslims are allowed polygamy, but Hindus or Christians are prosecuted for doing the same. Christians are also given separate laws for divorce, which is more difficult for them than for Hindus.

The followers of the Hindutva speak for the Hindu majority in India. They also often feel that secular democracy implies equal laws for all religions, and want a uniform civil code passed for the same reason. One must also differentiate between the word “secularism” as used in the Western and Indian contexts. Secularism in the West implies “separation of church and state” whereas secularism in India means “equal respect for all religions”. Among the goals of the Hindutva organizations in modern India is a reversing of the invasions by conquerors. They include demands to convert disputed historical monuments into temples.

Implementation of Hindutva Policies

The Hindutva force captured power in some states of India and in those states they started implementing their Hindutva polices.

1. Introducing the “anti-conversion bill” which makes difficult to both missionaries and to individuals to convert to Christianity from Hinduism. It is introduced to counter the menace of the proselytizing religions of Christianity and Islam. Since the Hindutva force believes in a religiously defined nationhood the conversion of Hindus to foreign faith is seen as a grave threat to Hindu nationhood.

2. Introducing the “anti-cow slaughter bill”. It is basically aiming at the formation of Hindu nation. Cow is a sacred animal for Hindus. By banning the slaughtering of cow, they have double motives. One is to make India as a Hindu nation and another motive is to target the Muslims and Christians who eat the cow meat.

3. Using education to spread the Hindutva ideology. Under this agenda, the content of education from the primary level to the higher education stage should be “Indianised, nationalized and spiritualized. In some of their ruled states, they changed the syllabus and content of the subject in order to propagate the Hindutva ideology

4. Appointing personals in the government officials who are supporters of Hindutva ideology. In the BJP ruled states, high ranking officials are the hand-pick of the Hindutva force that has an inclination towards their policies. Hence they could manipulate the government machineries for their end.

5. Intimidation of both Christians and Muslims in their ruled states. Sustained attacks on Churches and Christian schools across the country. Physical attack on Christian missionaries, nuns are very common in the Hindutva ruled states. The intimidation aims at the curbing of activities of our missionaries.

Critical Analysis of the situation

When we look at the situation where the Hindutva force is becoming stronger and the present situation shows that for Christians, a great challenge is ahead of them. When we study it from the historical perspective, we, the Christian missionaries directly or indirectly contributed to the rise of Hindu fundamentalism. Of course, Muslims too played a role in that. First of all, the invaders both British and Muslim are to take a lion share for being causes for the rise of Hindutva forces. The British and Muslim emperors had scant respect for Hinduism. They ridiculed the Hindu religion, saying that they are pagan gods and they also did not respect their holy places. The Muslim emperors converted a few temples into Mosques. Hence the negative attitude of the British and Muslims forced some Hindus to unite themselves under the banner of Rashtray Swayam Sevek (RSS) and ultimately it gave birth to different fundamental groups, including the political wing BJP.

Another factor which contributed to the rise of Hindutva force is our own theology and the activities of missionaries. Way back, India was filled with foreign missionaries who were very zealous in mass conversion. They were converting a lot of Dalits and Tribals to Christianity which the Hindutva force perceived as a threat to the Hindu religion. They thought that if they allow the Christian missionaries to convert the Dalits and Tribals, the Hindu religion will finally extinct. Hence, they were up with arms against the Christian missionaries for their interest for conversion. The Hindutva force was infuriated when Pope John Paul II, spoke about conversion in Asia, when he came to India. Therefore, the Hindutva force is against any conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. One of the main agenda of the Hindutva force is to stop conversion.

Another added factor is our Christian theology. Our theology speaks about exclusiveness and uniqueness of Christ. In the pluralistic countries, it is a problem, if we proclaim the uniqueness of Christ. The Hindu fundamentalists, who are aware of our theology, oppose it saying that this theology puts Christianity above all other religions. This attitude of Christian religion also is considered to be a threat to Hinduism. Though there are many factors which contribute to the rise of Hindutva force, I considered the above-mentioned factors are main causes for the Hindutva forces to adapt to the fundamentalist attitude.

Transformation: A change of attitude

The above-mentioned factors which directly or indirectly contributed to the rise of Hindutva force, now calls for a change. A change is needed in our attitude, in our thinking and in our theology too. It is true that over the years the Church in India has been thinking seriously on the relationship with other religions, especially to the Hinduism. We do have a positive attitude towards Hinduism; however, against the background of the past experience, the Hindutva forces are suspicious about us. They are suspicious about our educational institutions which they think, they are for converting people. They are suspicious about our social services which they think; they are aimed at converting people. Here, we need to have a change in our mission. We have to move from converting souls to converting persons. In other words, instead of increasing the number of Baptism, we need to work for the welfare of humanity, society and nation at large. We need to re-interpret the uniqueness of Christ in the context of pluralism, which will not hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindu people.

The Church teaching on other religions

In India in the context of different religions, particularly in the context of Hinduism, a lot of theological activities have been going on. Indeed the Second Vatican Council gave a boost to the theological movement in India. Almost all theological reflections in India began to situate themselves in the context of non-Christian religions, especially Hinduism. Since then, the church in India has been striving hard to better its relationship with the other religions.

One of the stumbling blocks for a relationship with Hinduism was the understanding of Salvation. Earlier missionaries were convinced that there was no salvation outside the church which was indeed a cause for animosity between the Hinduism and Christianity. Now, the Vatican II recognizes the Universal saving will of God (II Vatican, Lumen Gentium, 16). It is because of this universal saving will there are workings of God in other religions. Although the workings of God in other religions are hidden, they are not totally unknown to the Church. In the ways of conduct and of life of the people, and in the precepts and teachings of the religions Nostra Aetate perceives the reflection of a ray of the truth, the Christ who enlightens all. John Paul II stated that in Christ God is working out the salvation in a way also through the different religions of the people. God makes himself “present in many ways, not only to individuals but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression, even when they contain ’gaps’, insufficiencies and errors”. The document jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Congregation for the Evangelization of the peoples once again clarifies the mind of the II Vatican Council. The document stated that it may be the providence of God that the people belonging to the different religions, through the different very true religious efforts, may achieve salvation ( II Vatican, Ad Gentes, 3, cf. also Lumen Gentium, 16).

As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for the rise of Hindu fundamentalism is our own attitude, a negative attitude of condemning other religions, saying that there is no salvation outside the church. This attitude did infuriate the Hindu fundamentalist and as a result they are against conversions in India. Now, our attitude has been changed and Vatican II clearly highlights on the point that there is salvation outside the church. Hence, there is no hindrance to accept Hinduism as one of the religions which lead people to salvation. This thinking indeed helps the Hindutva force to get rid of their biases against Christianity especially with regard to our motivation of conversion.

Operation of the Spirit in other Religions:

The presence and activity of the spirit are universal, limited neither by space nor by time. Gaudium et spes states that the operation of the Spirit had started well before the Christ-event ( II Vatican Gaudium Et Spes, 22). In Dominum et Vivificantem Pope John Paul II said that our vision must be limited to the two thousand years which have passed since the birth of Christ. It must go further back, to embrace the whole of the action of the Holy Spirit even before Christ – from the beginning, throughout the world, and especially in the economy of the Old Covenant. The operation of the Spirit is still continuing in other religions even after the Christ-event, for Christ died for all. (II Vatican, Gaudium Et Spes, 22; cf. Lumen Gentium, 16; Ad Gentes, 4). The universal working of the spirit of God is in the world, in the human values which pursue justice and kinship, peace and harmony (cf. II Vatican, Gaudium Et Spes, 32, 38). He is working in the heart of every person “through the seeds of the word”, to be found in human initiatives -including religious ones- and in man’s effort to attain truth, goodness and God himself. The spirit is at the very source of the human person’s existential and religious questioning…which is occasioned not only by contingent situations but by the very structure of its being (9). The people’s religious life is influenced by the spirit ( II Vatican, Gaudium Et Spes, 15, 37,41, etc.). The spirit’s presence and activity affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions (10).

Vatican Council perceives the presence and operation of the Spirit even outside the visible body of the Church. Basing on II Vatican, Gaudium Et Spes, 22, Pope John Paul II writes that the Council “reminds us of the Holy Spirit’s activity also ‘outside’ the visible body of the church” (11). With the backing of the New Testament assertion, the spirit blows where he wills” (Jn.3:8), John Paul affirms that there is the operative presence of the spirit of God in the religious life and religious tradition of the non-Christians. The firm belief of the followers of the non-Christian religions” is also an effect of the spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body” (12). It is the same spirit that is also active in the Church. Therefore “the universal activity of the spirit is not to be separated from his particular activity within the Body of Christ, which is the spirit” (13).

Vatican II clearly spells out that the spirit is present in other religion too. The spirit did really inspire people of other religion to practice a holy and perfect life. It is indeed the same spirit which guides the church to the truth, guides other religion too to the truth. The acceptance of the spirit being present in other religion too enables us to accept other religion as a true religion. This teaching of the Church eases out the tension between Christianity and Hinduism which had existed over the years. The tension was existing because of the claim of Christianity over the Hinduism. The Catholic religion once claimed that it is the only true religion and only it has the truth. This change brought a great relief to people who live in a pluralistic country. One of the reasons for the Hindu fundamentalists, being hostile to Christianity was the claim of superiority over other religions. The Vatican II helps us to understand the other religion in a better way and also enables us to accept them.

Theological Reflection: Dialogue as Mission

Taking into consideration the Indian context, where the fundamentalism is growing and after making a self-evaluation of our own attitude towards Hinduism in the earlier times, and in the light of teaching of Vatican II, which casts other religions in a positive light, we need to rethink on our mission. In a pluralistic context, inter-religious dialogue is a part of the Church’s Evangelizing mission. The council calls for dialogue with the non-Christian religions. This dialogue has its roots in the very concept of Religion, which is a dialogue between Man and God (cf. Paul VI, ES 70). Hence dialogue should be a mission of every religion, especially for the catholic religion. Dialogue with other religion always aims at mutual respect and mutual understanding. To achieve this objective, first and foremost, the religions at dialogue should share their theological views and ideas. It is not to find fault or errors in theological understanding. Rather it is to understand each one’s stand on theological issues and to respect each one’s view point. It is not for an argumentation that we enter into theological discussion, but it is for enriching one another with rich theological thoughts. Earlier, Christian theologians were critical about the theology of Hindu religion and its tradition. But now, dialogue helps us to accept their view point and to appreciate it. The appreciation and acceptance of other’s view, especially on the Hindu religion will help the fundamentalist group to change their attitude. In fact, fundamentalism is a reaction to the negative attitude of Christian towards the Hindu. Our misconception and misunderstanding on the Hindu religion invited the wrath of the fundamentalist. Dialogue indeed helps us to have better understanding with the fundamentalist group. Hence, dialogue is one of the means, through which we can reach out to our Hindu brethren. In this process, each religion stands in its position and expresses their view without criticizing the other. We engage in dialogue to clarify and to remove misunderstandings between two religions. This will help us to have better relationship with the other religion in a pluralistic context.

By sharing our theological views and ideas through dialogue, we also seek the truth. Pope John Paul II said in Madras, India, that “dialogue is a means of seeking after truth and sharing it with others”. It is this “truth that has come to unite all the people as one human kind in love. Every religion seeks after truth. If we accept this basic principle, we can somewhat mellow down the fundamentalism. Absolutism also leads religion to fundamentalism. Hindu fundamentalism is a reaction to our absolutism. But now, we accept that other religion also contains truth. “The Catholic church recognizes the truths that are contained in the religious traditions of India” (II Vatican, Nostra Aetate, 34). Religions in India, especially Hinduism, are ardent seekers of truth. In this context “dialogue is a means of seeking after truth and sharing it with others”. Dignitatis Humane of Vatican II states that by dialogue people will be sharing “with each other the truth they have discovered, or are convinced they have discovered, in such a way that they help one another in the search for truth”. Today’s India has been experiencing division, hatred and disunity, because of fundamentalism. By seeking truth in other religion, especially in Hinduism, Catholic Church can bring unity and fellowship in the society. As Vatican II, Nostra Aetate, 1, says, “it is the truth what “human beings have in common and on what promotes fellowship among them”.

Constant dialogue with God and with other religions, help us to reinterpret our own theological concepts which will be meaningful to a pluralistic context. Even the Hindu concepts can be reinterpreted in Christian context. For instance, church, sacraments and Kingdom of God should be reinterpreted in our own context. The reinterpretation of our theological concepts will not take place unless we have openness. Dialogue will help us to be open to other religion. Rigid interpretations of our theological concepts will not receive compliments in a pluralistic context; rather it will get negative reaction from other religions. The Hindutva forces indeed were negative towards catholic religion due to our rigid way of interpreting things. Dialogue helps to understand our own selves and enables us to be open to other religion.

Kingdom of God as mission

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, our theological concepts need reinterpretation which will be befitting to the pluralistic context. In this context, the “kingdom of God” is reinterpreted to our situation. First of all, the Kingdom of God should not be identified with the Church. The Kingdom of God is wider concept than the Church. The Church is a sign of kingdom of God. The kingdom of God can be understood in three ways. One way we can understand the Kingdom as the future of the Church. This interpretation leads us to rigidity and exclusiveness. The church is seen as the beginnings of the kingdom. Another way of understanding the kingdom is to insist that it is not merely a future, heavenly reality, but has to be realized here and now in history as a human community of freedom, fellowship and love. People would however agree that the Kingdom is not merely an earthly reality and that while we must keep on striving for the realization of the Kingdom in this sense in human society, its actual advent may be eschatological in or beyond history. In this interpretation, the kingdom is understood as both present and future reality. The problem with this interpretation is that it is very much limited to the church. It sees the church as kingdom which is a both present and future reality. This interpretation will not be applicable to a pluralistic society. A third way of understanding the kingdom refers to its presence also in other religions and cultures as God’s continuing activity. The kingdom in this sense transcends the Church. The concept of kingdom goes beyond the religion and culture. The church is only a historically and culturally conditioned realization of it. In promoting and serving it the church is called to realize its limitations and open out to other cultures and religions in dialogue. Through dialogue we acknowledge the presence of the kingdom in other religions. This acknowledgment and acceptance of God’s presence in the other religions will really open the doors for the Hindu religion. Our closed-door attitude is one of the reasons for the Hindu fundamentalist to nurture hatred and animosity towards us.

Our narrow way of interpreting the ‘Church”, and the “kingdom of God” leads one to the mission of “saving of souls”. In the past there was an anxiety to baptize and save as many as possible from hell fire. Now that we believe that God is reaching out to every human person in ways unknown to us, we can afford to be less anxious and ask ourselves whether the meaning of mission is not so much the saving of souls, but of being a force for the transformation of societies in view of their final fulfillment. The reinterpretation of the “kingdom of God”, invites us to work for the transformation of the society, not for increasing the quantity of the Church but for a qualitative change in the society. The kingdom of God is to build a society based on the values of justice, love and truth. The kingdom of God means to establish a community of fellowship, brotherhood and sisterhood. The mission of the church is to work towards establishing the kingdom here on earth. In order to spread the kingdom, we need to work with the other religion. God’s kingdom is a common platform where all the religions meet to bring about transformation in the society. The dialogue with the other religion will help us to come together to fight against all inhuman structure, and will enable us to bring a just society which the kingdom of God envisages. In order to bring the kingdom of God here on earth, we need to join hands with the other religion and fight against the anti-kingdom forces. According John Paul II, in the multi-religious society like India, the inter-religious dialogue will help the people to work together for the defense of shared human and spiritual values, and for the promotion of integral development. The dialogue will be a catalytic agent for giving sense of solidarity among all religions in their effort to fight against the militant religious fundamentalism which threatens the unity of the people of India. Finally, we could conclude saying that dialogue helps us to work with the other religion in bringing about transformation in the society and thus we can establish the kingdom of God which is a community of fellowship, brotherhood and sisterhood which Jesus envisaged.

Conclusion

As I conclude my paper, it is imperative that our mission is contextualized. In Asia, we live in a pluralistic context; hence our mission should be fitting to the context. In a pluralistic society, we need to take into consideration other religions, their sentiments, their theology and philosophy. The context plays a pivotal role in identifying the mission. In today’s context, where the fundamentalism is gaining momentum, our mission of converting people to Christianity is questionable. We redefined our theology and mission in order to fit into the pluralistic context. In our Asian context, our mission is not saving of souls by baptizing and increasing the number, rather it is to work for the transformation of the society by joining hands with the other religion. It is also to fight against all inhuman structures and to establish the kingdom of God. In a multi-religious context, it is only in collaboration with other religions we can achieve this goal.


[1] Paul Bharati, CM is a doctor in theology from the Gregorian University. He teaches theology in various seminaries in India, and is currently working in a parish. Doktor Bharati belongs to India Southern Province.

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