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Lord, Pardon Them

The impression one gets of the churches with foreign links is that they're less interested in spirituality and are more into politics.

Lord, Pardon Them
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It is extremely necessary today to put an immediate end to the affairs of the foreign-controlled, foreign-financed and foreign-influenced churches and endowments in India, and to entrust them all to India's own indigenous Church". Was it the sarsanghchalak of the RSS saying so? No. These brave words belong to His Eminence Mar Athanasius Joel S. Williams, archbishop, Indian National Church (287, Bellasis Road, Bombay [now Mumbai] 400008).

The archbishop pleaded for the establishment of 'India's own indigenous church' to ensure that the spiritual guidance of the citizens of India is not corrupted by foreign financial control. His apprehensions about the foreign church and their dubious agenda was not unfounded. The impression one gets of the foreign churches is that they are interested less in pursuits spiritual and are more into dabbling in local and national politics, with ulterior motives. From organisations with mission, some of them have stooped down to being outfits working for commission. No less a person than Dr Joseph Carnellius Kumarappa, the eminent Gandhian economist, had once remarked that the western nations had four armies-the infantry, the navy, the air force and the Church.

Today, half a century after Independence, if the present generation of the Church leaders in India want to free themselves from their foreign 'yoke', will they be able to do so? The Vatican has not concealed its agenda. The World Christian Handbook (1952), says: "The general purpose of the Commission of Churches on international affairs is to serve constituents of the parent bodies as a 'source of stimulus and knowledge' in their approach to international problems, as a medium of common counsel and action, and as their organ in formulating the Christian mind on world issues and bringing that mind effectively to bear upon such issues."

The Ecumenical Study Conference of East Asia, organised in Lucknow in 1952, stipulated: "There is need for the Church in East Asia to develop a social doctrine which will provide right criteria for making political judgements and decisions in the East Asian situation on the basis of Christian faith."

And what if this Christian faith is not in conformity with the national viewpoint? The Vatican will prevail over the churches in India through their working order that in matters political, as well as spiritual or temporal, the view of the Vatican is final and binding. In fact, the third assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) held in New Delhi in 1961 even sought to amend the Constitution of India so as to allow the Vatican 'more elbow-room in Indian politics'.

The question here is: are the church leaders, who are devout Indians going about their 'normal business' in a harmless manner, be ever out of the control of the Vatican?

As the state guest in India, Pope John Paul II (head of the Vatican) declared that his mission was to "plant the cross in Asia"-thus recalling, in the minds of non-Christians, the horror of crusades. The recent Vatican declaration "Dominus lesus" has challenged the very existence of all other non-Catholic Christian faiths, let alone dismissing and bypassing other great religions of the world.

According to the Vatican's document, all non-Catholic (read Roman Catholic) religions are proclaimed as "defective". Not because they are any less spiritual or they are not evolved enough, but just because they do not accept the primacy of the Pope. Therefore, going by what the Vatican suggests, the Pope, and not Christ is central to Christianity.

In such a context, they cannot and do not accept the spiritual content of the Hindu philosophy which has taught the Hindus, Christians and Muslims, and even the nastiks that truth is one and learned people call it differently. This catholic world-view has no place in the Vatican. With what moral right do the 'warriors of Vatican' seek a share in the democratic process when their leader denounces non-Christians as "gravely deficient?" The agents of Vatican are now promoting conversion as democratic freedom, even though the Vatican's view of religion is authoritarian. The Vatican's recent declaration is clearly undemocratic-accepting only one authority, that of the Pope-not even Jesus Christ, the Son of God-and not honouring pluralism so essential for democracy.

Christians in India are part and parcel of this country, this culture. Some generations back, they changed their method of worship. Why should they change their names to represent some Roman or Latin or Greek or some unknown lineage? Can they really cut their roots off from under their feet? Can they disown their forefathers? Can they forget Deepavali, Dussehra, Baisakhi and Pongal?

A national church would only distance the Christian community from the politically-motivated anti-national activities of the foreign churches. It would indeed be a godsend to keep away from the Vatican, yet move closer to the Lord. Amen

(The author is the editor of RSS mouthpiece Organiser)

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