An archbishop in southern India hopes to inspire young Catholics with a book on the history of Christian missions and missionaries in his area.
Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad also plans to highlight the history of inter-religious cooperation in India. His two-volume book, written with the help of regional and international scholars, will be titled “The Land Inherited: A Story of Hyderabad Mission.” Andhra Pradesh, of which Hyderabad is the state capital, has seen European missionary work since the sixteenth century. Its 13 dioceses have a population of about one million Catholics.
The archbishop hopes the history will inspire young Catholics to follow missionaries' heroic example to work for truth, justice, equality and harmony.
"We want to give future generations a document" that will inspire them to build "God's kingdom with a holistic approach," the archbishop told UCA News.
Though the project will acknowledge the contribution of European missionaries, Archbishop Joji also wants to dispel a widespread belief that it was "only the British who invited and supported Christian missioners" in India.
Archbishop Joji reports that Hindu and Muslim rulers in India welcomed missionaries before the arrival of the British. They provided hospitality to the foreigners and listened to their preaching. Not only did they allow the preaching of Christianity, but they ensured missionaries' safety and gave them land for missions and schools.
The archbishop mentioned the inter-religious example of the Nizam sovereigns who ruled Hyderabad from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Though devout Muslims, they nevertheless supported both Christian church-building and Hindu temple-building. Their relations with missionaries were so cordial some missionaries even acted as advisors to the rulers.
“The Land Inherited” is scheduled to be published sometime in 2008.