Monday, October 14, 2019

Mistakes Catholics in India Make

Reading through the cover feature by Anthony Dias, SJ, and the appendix by Joseph M. Dias, SJ, in the July edition of Jivan, I was both amused and irked. Amused because both authors predictably chose to remain safely within the realms of the secular when formulating their propositions for the theme “Jesuit responses to a stunning verdict”; irked because despite the fact that both men are priests, there was no reference to Jesus, the one man who has an answer for every challenge we will ever face. These responses were not peculiarly Jesuit, however, nor were they necessarily unusual, but are, in fact, representative of a wider problem many Catholics in India seem to have in responding to the crisis that is staring us in the face.

This paralysis results partly from our uncritical acceptance of the rhetoric of modernism, especially that of liberal secularism. Recognizing the violence inherent to liberal secularism we will realize that the violence of Hindu nationalism was already coded into Indian nationalism. There is need for Catholics to rethink their relationship with modern nationalism, and the cult of the nation state. These go against the universal spirit of Catholicism.

A good place to begin articulating a Catholic response to this crisis would be to upturn modernist and liberal assumptions about politics and open up the field of the political from the immanent to include the transcendental. We need to particularly assert the possibility, and indeed the need for the sacred to embrace the profane and sacralise it. Simultaneously there is need to talk about the values peculiar to distinct sacred orders. Not all sacred orders cherish the dignity of the individual.

A response to Election 2019 must rely on a rejection of modernism and an insistence on the universalism preached by Christ and His Church.

(A version of this text was first published as a Letter to the Editor of Jivan, magazine of the Jesuits in India.)

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