The Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Parliament in Dec’2019 has evoked and tingled a bone of many a section of the society both for and against the topic. However what’s interesting to observe is the reaction of a few Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular becoming vocal on an Act they actually are beneficiaries.
I was at a loss of words at what transpired over the last few weeks especially the Bishops being vocal on a subject though Christians also being beneficiary of this Act. What surprises me more is the fact that the statements and press releases made were purely based on popular misunderstandings rather than actual understanding of the Law itself.
It is very unfortunate that two Roman Catholic Archbishops viz., of Goa and Bangalore (appointed by the Vatican) have expressed their dissent and have spread untrue implications of the CAA and prompted the Government to either edit the Act or withdraw the Act.
While the Goan Archbishop has beaten a hollow drum and asked the Government to “immediately and unconditionally revoke the Citizenship Amendment Act” Not to go ahead with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), the Archbishop of Bangalore (ABB) has submitted a memorandum to the government and also issued press statements. It would have been appreciated had proper care been taken while handling this matter before making public statements and bringing disrepute to the Catholic community (both the Archbishops don’t represent all the Christians but only the Roman Catholic Church) this because the rest of the Christian denominations do not accept them as their religious leaders.
While noticeably the Church has always demonized PM Modi and the BJP as hard-line Hindus, I wish to draw the attention of readers, especially Christians that this very same Government had gone beyond the call of duty and put all its might in ensuring that Indians irrespective of their religion have always been taken care. Calling to mind the kind attention of some daring rescue operations where Christians have been beneficiaries. I presume Church has conveniently forgotten: to cite a few
- Tom Uzhunnalil rescued from savage Islamic State captivity
- Alexis Prem Kumar from savage Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Nurses from Kerala rescued, mostly Christians, who were stranded in Iraq in the custody of terrorists
- Judith D’Souza of West Bengal who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and rescued. The current Government had applied every trick in the book and brought them back alive from the clutches of terrorists. To my view, all these beneficiaries should have stood testimony to what CAA and PM Modi has done to them. I actually was expecting them to sing ballads in praise but for some precarious reason these beneficiaries have escaped to obscurity.
It would be good to recall that whatever the current central government has done anything in favour of Christians has always been rebuked or viewed suspiciously and Christians have only tried to find fault rather appreciate the same. I have gone through the press releases of the Archbishops (AB) and wish to table them in front of the readers which I suppose is either politically motivated or lack of understanding of the law or they have offered their shoulders to another religious community to shoot their discontentment. Here are a few comments which I felt was not required to mention:
- CAA is creating division
- Against the Constitution
- Apprehension of Christians being future targets
- Individual merit has to be considered
- Spoiling peace with violence
- Isolating one religion
- Spoiling the image of unity and diversity of the Bharat
- Bharat is known for generosity My clarifications to ABs points:
CAA is creating division: There is no question of division as this is a law of inclusiveness and not exclusion as perceived by the AB. Fundamentally it is an act of generosity by Bharat to these persecuted Minorities who have been persecuted by 3 fanatical religious countries who have a pronounced notorious attitude towards religious minorities. Not to mention all these 3 fanatical countries have given 3rd class or worse citizenship treatment to these persecuted communities, Christians being one among them. Bharat is obliged to be equal to its citizens only and not refugees.
CAA is against the Constitution: Simple, without much getting into legal terminologies, seeking citizenship is not a right for any foreigner and it is in the hands of the Indian government to grant it. Secondly Parliament has the exclusive power in making laws regarding citizenship and this Act does not infringe any constitutional provision.
Apprehension of Christians being future targets: It’s not at all shocking at this fear mongering statement because whenever the Congress party was not in power at the center or some states, (even before the BJP came to power) under Moraji Desai, VP Singh, Mulayam Singh, Lallu etc., and specifically the run-up to 2014 and 2019 Parliamentary elections there seems to be well orchestrated chorus sung by the Church, its leaders and its associates by instilling fear and discomfort feeling which I strongly feel is an artificial fear pumped into innocent (sheeps) Christians.
Individual merit has to be considered: I guess the AB has not read and understood the CAA well because the Act is relevant only to persecuted groups. Individuals are free to apply for citizenship and based on merit will be granted to all irrespective of religion they practice.
Spoiling peace with violence: If we observe the protests that have been carried out by specific groups, the ones that have turned violent causing public damage and disharmony in the society have been those who have opposed the Act and have distinctly been identified from a specific religious community or leftist’s ideology only. So I guess the appeal is to them only. It would have been appreciated had the AB been more specific in his appeal to them only. The pro CAA protests (gatherings & marches) have notably been peaceful.
Isolating one religion: I am aghast at this statement, first of all this Act is clearly meant for the persecuted (understand as religious) communities and in majoritarian Islamic country which has its own differences among its various sects/cults, I don’t think Bharat has any obligation to them. Not to mention, these sects have their own ideological differences and are primarily Muslims from Pakistan and will not do any good for the safety and security of Bharat or Muslims here, rather cause damage and ill will among themselves in Bharat.
Spoiling the image of unity and diversity of the nation: Bharat today is a imposed secular country and not a Hindu country as this benefit was snatched away by vested interests of the past. Secularism as we see is an idea which was inserted and imposed forcibly on a race of people meticulously brainwashed through various streams of propaganda. The unity and diversity of this country is the brainchild of the Hindu faith, viz., Maha Upanishad’s ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (“the world is one family”). So for now Church should park discussing this point until Bharat really becomes a Hindu country to expect it to be really inclusive in nature.
Bharat is known for generosity: I am glad that the AB has accepted that Bharat has been generous and this generosity has been abused time and again by various factions, be it religious, economic, political, security (both internal and external) and the same has been abused time and again for the last few hundreds of years. Had the ancient Indian Hindu Rajs (kings) been non-inclusive and not broadminded, the Islamists, the Missionaries, the Europeans initially and later the British Empire would not have stepped into this country on the pretext of goodwill, trade or religion. I am sure you all will agree that this land was indeed the land of gold, milk and honey, plundered innumerable times to finally reduce into a pauper country. Bharat so to say (once bitten, twice shy) will be generous but it will be cautious in generosity so to say that it will not put its own people into risk as it had been done for the last 70 odd years post-independence.
The religious atrocities in notably Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan against Christians have been spine chilling with the motto being either convert or perish. Has the Church ever taken into account as to what was the population of Christians a few decades ago and now? Where have they gone? Have we ever read the gruesome stories of Christians like Asia Bibi, Shahbaz Bhatti and Yousuf Youhana. I will not narrate their stories but will give them the privilege to read about them – Asia had to flee, Shahbaz was assassinated and Yousuf Youhana had to convert to Islam. Do we know what is the Blasphemy law and how it has been used unscrupulously against the Christians, I am sure Church won’t or rather don’t want to. I call upon them to go through a 2019 Report of the European Parliament visit to Pakistan and the contents of the report on the plight of Minorities in Pakistan. I guess Church will not believe Bharat, atleast trust the European Parliament.
My observations on the Church reactions to CAA:
ABs have mentioned that they speak on behalf of the Christian community, but their actions through press releases and appeals are
- In the daily Mass Intercessory and especially during Easter the lengthy Intercessory ‘prayer of the faithful’ the members of the Church have been asked to pray for the safety and security of persecuted Christians. Now that these prayers have been answered through a Government headed by PM Modi, they seem to reject and are opposing the same, isn’t this true?
- By opposing this Act, are we not actually communicating to these suffering minority religious refugees, notably Christians in our context that they are actually not welcomed by their own Christian community (read as Roman Catholic Bishops) neither do we care for their wellbeing and
My conclusions to Church’s response to the CAA:
The Church will tolerate our Christian brethren (even as we speak) Christians including minors being raped & forcibly married, sold as sex slaves, tortured, forcibly converted or killed, ill-treated but will not allow them easy access into our country for the simple reason that this Act which was the culmination of repeated appeals (for the last 70plus years) starting from MK Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru to Manmohan Singh finally manifested at the hands of PM Modi who does not fit Church’s framework.
- Church will look the other side when their own brethren are making fervent appeals as it does not fit their dogmas
- Will blindly partner with one religious community not knowing the fact that, it’s a matter of time, that this same religious community will turn its sword against the Christians. We have already witnessed the ramifications in Srilankan Church bombing and Europe after having accepted refugees from Syria (almost all refugees being
non-Christians). There is enough indication of mutiny in Europe and Churches and Christians have been attacked meticulously.
While I conclude this very hurting and uncalled action of the Church against Christians in particular, I am proud to say that PM Modi has been extremely generous and really deserves to be called the Messiah for our suffering Christian brethren in these countries. Also wish to bring to your notice that Christians across the country eventually understand these double standards of the Church. I hope and pray that there will be a sea change in the Church’s outlook.
Founder Hindustani Christians
(Association of Christian RSS members)
Note about the writer:
Jerome Anto is the founder of the group Hindustani Christians and is an ardent RSS swayam sevak. He is the Shakha Mukhyashikshak and works towards inducting Christians into RSS.