In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, explained that the best weapon the Church and the faithful have against the wave of anti-Christian violence in the country is prayer.
During the interview, the cardinal denounced that in India, “all people of good will, including Hindus and Muslims, taste the horror and are beaten by the diabolical actions of those who don’t hesitate to hunt down Christians to kill them, to destroy their homes and their churches, with no respect for human dignity and rights.”
“I don’t think I am wrong in saying that this campaign of hate against Christians is due to the total inaction of the local government,” he added, stressing that “it is not necessary to give in to the temptation to just accept it or much less to vengeance. In end it won’t be fundamentalism that prevails.”
Explaining the reasons that led to the closing of Catholics schools in India for one day, the cardinal underscored that the shutdown of the “more than 25,000 Indian schools was a symbolic gesture of great impact and protest, that was aimed at stirring the conscience of our country.”
“It was a clear sign to shed light on the importance of the Christian presence, which is always on the front lines of social work, education and assistance embracing the entire population without distinction,” the cardinal continued. “Prayer, even for those who hate us, has become our main weapon,” he added.
Cardinal Gracias went on to refer to the necessity of inter-religious dialogue for “eliminating all possible causes of tension and disagreement between religious and ethnic groups in India. Dialogue is vital, fundamental. The Church in India has never ceased to promote it.”
The cardinal said the Church participates in this dialogue “on behalf of the poor, the infirm, with no consideration for whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians, reaffirming the right to life for all; it is horrible that newborns are killed because they are female,” he said. “In the end it’s about proclaiming Jesus with one’s own life and contributing to a new world system built on reciprocal love and faith,” he stated.
Later in referring to the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, which will begin on October 5 and which he will be unable to attend for health reasons, Cardinal Gracias said he hoped the gathering would lead India to a “deeper understanding of the Scriptures in order to remove errors and prejudices.”
“I hope the Synod also delves deeper into the relationship between the Word of God and the sacred texts of other religions: a perspective that will contribute to clarifying the principles of inter-religious dialogue that are important for giving hope to India and to the entire world,” he added.
India is in need of hope, Cardinal Gracias said. “I have always said so and I was moved when the Pope repeated it to me personally when I was made a cardinal in November of last year. I understood that I am called to play a new role for India and all of Asia. A role of hope founded upon the Word of God.”