CBCI president calls for meaningful dialogue between religious groups

Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo  

Ignatius Pereira

KOLLAM: Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) president Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo has said that talks between leaders of religious groups for harmony will not have any meaning if the outcome does not percolate down among the masses.

Talking to The Hindu here on his arrival to consecrate the new Infant Jesus Cathedral of the Kollam Diocese here on Saturday, Cardinal Toppo said the CBCI did not believe in dialogue for religious harmony at the theologian level only.

He said a Christian-Muslim dialogue initiated by the CBCI in the country appeared to be highly successful. A similar process is poised to take place in Pakistan shortly. Though the CBCI is for such a dialogue with the Hindu community, the question is who will represent it in the dialogue.

Such dialogues should pave the way for different religious groups living together harmoniously. The CBCI would like to call it the dialogue of action. It should go to the extent of celebrating even religious feasts together. When the Catholic Church speaks of religious harmony dialogue, it means talks with all religions, he said.

Asked whether the alleged challenges being faced by secularism from different quarters would pose a problem for Christianity in the country, Cardinal Toppo said a majority of Indians were God fearing.

Hence a small minority challenging secularism will not in any way succeed. God-fearing people will always remain together, whatever be the differences in their religion. India will always remain a perfect example for unity in diversity, he said. ``In my sermons in Europe I always say that India is a model for a future world of peace and unity.''

He said the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) had taken some important steps for meeting the challenges posed by AIDS. The basic thrust would be on compassion and care of the HIV-positive and AIDS patients. The Catholic Church in India has more than 64 centres and care-home for such patients. A special office under the FABC is likely to be opened to address the problem.

The CBCI will continue its campaign for the reservation rights of Dalit Christians. It is a fact that their social and economic conditions do not change just because they become Christians, the Cardinal said.