Addressing the violent attacks against Christians in India was the focus of this year’s message to Hindus for the celebration of Diwali from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the pontifical council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
This year Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, falls on October 28, and for the occasion, Cardinal Tauran has penned a message in English entitled, "Christians and Hindus: Together in Favor of Non-violence."
The celebration of Diwali should be an opportunity to consider “how we can live harmoniously in today's society, witnessing to the truth, light and hope,” Cardinal Tauran wrote.
Saying that “religions are often blamed for society's ills,” Tauran said that “we know that it is rather the manipulation of religion, contrary to its fundamental beliefs, that is used to carry out so many forms of violence."
The latest wave of violence against Christians by Hindu extremists, which began on August 23 in India, has left about 100 Christians dead and scores of churches demolished. The violence began after the radical Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed by Marxist rebels and his death was blamed by his followers on Christians.
The latest violence led Cardinal Tauran to remind Christians and Hindus of their shared belief in non-violence.
"In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus called on His disciples to love their enemies, to pray for those who hated them. ... In the Hindu tradition, non- violence is one of the more important teachings,” he wrote.
Cardinal Tauran also pointed to Mahatma Gandhi, who he described as “the Father of the Indian nation,” who is “respected and held in high regard by people of different generations around the world for his complete dedication to the service of humanity.”
“During the course of his struggle for freedom,” the cardinal reminded Hindus, “he realized that 'an eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind'. Throughout his life, he developed among others, the concept of 'Ahimsa' (non-violence).”
"He is a model for non-violence and he led by example to the point of laying down his life because of his refusal to engage in violence.”
"Non-violence is not merely a tactical maneuver but is the attitude of one who, as the Pope affirmed, 'is so convinced of God's love and power' that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's enemy is the revolution of love, a love that does not rely ultimately on human resources but is a gift of God,” the cardinal asserted.
Highlighting the fact that “[n]on-violence is encouraged by many other religions,” the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue president called on religious leaders “to uphold the truth found in our respective religions and to “foster non-violence among our followers and support it in their actions.”
The cardinal closed his letter for Diwali with an appeal to Hindus to help Christians “do all we can to promote the sacredness of human life, the good of the poor and lowly in our midst and collaborate, through dialogue, to foster the dignity of the human person regardless of race or caste, creed or class.”
“As Hindus and Christians, especially in the present situation, let us be won over by love without reserve, with the conviction that non-violence is the only way to build a global society that is more compassionate, more just and more caring."