Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

Rebuttal to Father Mascarenhas

I was shocked to discover that the Gujarat model was about courage and compassion and not ‘cultural polarisation’. I was shocked to discover that the Gujarat model was about courage and compassion and not ‘cultural polarisation’.
Posted: May 1, 2014 12:48 am | Updated: April 30, 2014 11:57 pm

From an ex-Left MLA, now with the BJP, who says Modi could lead us to the ‘kingdom of god’.

As a citizen of India, Frazer Mascarenhas had the freedom to get on top of the tallest building in Mumbai and shout whatever he wanted. But the moment he became a Catholic priest, he surrendered part of that freedom. The Catholic church doesn’t allow politicking by clergy. He also surrendered that freedom when he became a university teacher. Section 414 of the Maharashtra Universities Act prohibits teachers from using their posts for political purposes. When he became principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, his freedom was further curbed. The collective responsibility of representing the Christian community, the Catholic church and the teacher community rested upon his shoulders. Mascarenhas failed on all counts.

I do not fully agree with the church diktat to its clergy to keep off politics, since Christians everywhere say in the lord’s prayer every day, “Thy kingdom come”. That kingdom can come only when there is justice and fairness. It can be accomplished only through good governance. It can never be accomplished when there is looting and corruption. Therefore a good Christian, even a Catholic priest, is duty bound to ensure that good governance is in place, which will ensure justice. Let me call this “Christian politics”. Therefore I would not have found Mascarenhas wanting at all in his Christian calling if he had exhorted his students to elect representatives who would ensure good governance.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Cardinal Cleemis, issued a pastoral letter to be read out in all the Catholic churches in India on April 6: “Let us pray that those who work hard to uphold values and principles in public life, those who uphold the great democratic and secular traditions of this country, and those who can ensure peace and prosperity to all its citizens get elected.” He hit the nail on the head. Not just Christians, but any sensible citizen could have used this to evaluate candidates at the ballot box.

But Mascarenhas failed to understand Cardinal Cleemis. He claims that he is not taking sides, that he is only provoking intelligent debate. But his opening remarks give him away: Gujarat’s “terrible experience in the last 10 years”. Though he doesn’t name any political party, his message is clear: Narendra Modi is dangerous, vote for the Congress. I don’t know the provocation for him to write so, especially from his official email address.

Mascarenhas seems to have got both the message of Christian politics as well as the basic facts about Gujarat wrong. First, about the basic message of Christ. The message of Christ is in his life: courage and compassion. If this is Christ continued…

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