Christians have a special task in India – to promote interfaith dialogue at all levels, he said in an interview to ucanindia.in
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi: Fr. Thomas Sequeira, who recently stepped down as the deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), says being a minority is a blessing in India.
Christians should not entertain a minority complex but consider their minority status as an invitation to join the majority community for the nation building, said the priest who was part of the Catholic Church’s interaction with socio-political and religious leaders for the past six years.
At a function on June 1, Fr. Sequeira handed over the charge of the CBCI Centre in New Delhi to his successor Fr. Joseph Chinappan.
In an interview with UCAN India a few days earlier, the 59-year-old priest said he leaves for higher studies in the United States with a note satisfaction that the Church has taken seriously its role in the nation building.
Christians, he said, have a special task in India – to promote interfaith dialogue at all levels.
For this, the Church has to engage all its pastoral structures to form human communities where people of all religions work together for common good.
He considered it a matter of pride and privilege to live in a multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic country.
“We are proud fellow pilgrims in this cradle of many religions and the only way forward for us is to engage in inter-religious dialogue,” he added.
However, inter-faith dialogue should not become only occasional meetings among religious leaders, but instead it should take place at all levels.
The priest cited examples from his native state of Goa to show how people in villages think beyond their religious consideration to work together for the common good.
“Dialogue of life really takes place in panchayat (village council) where people come together to resolve problems of electricity, water and urbanization,” he noted.
Such efforts could be well harnessed if Church allows its parish structures to form small human communities. A parish should think of the welfare of all people under its area, he added.
“When we deal with people of other religions we have to respect and accept whatever is truthful and noble in their traditions,” he asserted.
What he has seen from the national capital is a greater sense of tolerance among India, despite occasional aberrations created by some sections of people.
According to him, religious fanatics are found in all religions, including Christianity.
Recent cases of Christian persecutions have not discouraged the Church to carry on with its work among the poor and the deprived.
However, Christians have to work to remove the perception among certain sections of Indians that the Church indulges in conversion works. “No one will deny us the right to strengthen our country,” he added.
Although the Church is in the forefront of education, healthcare and social development, it has to improve the quality of its service and commitment of its workers, he said.
“We have great potential and we have to utilize it for the welfare of the national by joining hands with people of other religions,” he added.