HUMAN RIGHTS DAY (10 DEC) TO FOCUS ON
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND INTERRELIGIOUS HARMONY
The Indian Franciscans have planned for a nationwide celebration of Human Rights Day on 10th December, 2014 in all their educational, medical and social welfare institutions with a special focus on Religious Freedom and Interreligious Harmony.
The Franciscan Religious Congregations amounting to 52 in number with 165 Provincials spread out in all the states of India with more than fifty thousand members and still growing in vocation have their national network called Association with a huge number of Provincials. This national network has thousands of institutions catering to more than a million persons every day, be it in getting value education or entering into social welfare activities or health ministries.
In response to the appeal from the National team the all the Franciscans in India with their institutions will be celebrating the Human Rights Day as the day of mass awareness on Religious Freedom and Interreligious harmony.
This proposal has come up in response to the growing violence taking place at various places in India against Christians and their places of worship. The following excerpts are from the memorandum submitted by Abp. Anil Couto to Prime Minister, Mr. Modi on 2nd Dec, 2014.
- In Delhi, there was arson in the Catholic Church on 1st December 2014 burning the entire interior, including the Altar, the Holy Bible and Cross to ashes.
- On 30th November 2014, two house churches in Annupur district of Madhya Pradesh were attacked.
- The entry of Christians is banned in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region by the local gram panchayats since late May.
- In Deggarh district, Odisha several tribal Christian families were excommunicated on 28 April.
- On 16 June, a mob of religious extremists brutally beat up Christians including two women in Sirisguda, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, in Chhattisgarh.
- On 18th May in Kundupur, Karnataka the properties of two churches were allegedly damaged by unidentified miscreants.
- Such instances continue in various parts of the country these days.
Fr. A.J. Mathew, the Capuchin Franciscan and the President of the national network along with his team has appealed to all the Franciscans to mark the Human Rights day (10th Dec) with special focus on Religious Freedom and Interreligious Harmony. “These days, we are constantly challenged by the emerging violence against Christians in several places in India. It is a gross violation of our fundamental Rights enshrined in our Constitutions and hence we have also the duty to stand for our Rights. Destructions of Religious places, Social Boycotts and violence on Christians are to be condemned by every citizen” The Capuchin Franciscan Fr. Mathew expressed.
The National Network of Franciscan Religious Congregations in India is committed to the Secular fabric of our country. Through thousands of schools, colleges and social work centres, the Franciscans in India cater to the nation building and Good governance. The Association of Franciscan Families of India (AFFI) has appealed for special school assemblies, Interreligious peace prayer services, Peace marches etc on 10th December to create awareness among the students and people at large on Interreligious Harmony with safety and security of minorities.
- Nithiya ofm.cap, National Coordinator, AFFI