ASIA/INDIA - “The Church’s mission is to promote peace and reconciliation”: intervention by Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao of Goa on “National Day for Peace” commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, 4 February 2005

Goa (Fides Service) - The challenge of peace is a fundamental point of the Church’s mission and should be taken up with enthusiasm by the Catholic community in India. Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao of Goa said this in an intervention sent to Fides on the vocation to reconciliation which must be the distinctive mark of Catholics in the Indian context.
The Archbishop intervened recently on the occasion of India’s National Day for Peace held to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, apostle of peace and non violence. Archbishop Ferrao highlighted the more specific aspects of peace in a Christian sense with references to the present social and political scene in India, touching on the theme of interreligious and inter-community conflict.
“For centuries Indians of different faiths - the Archbishop affirmed - lived in peace and brotherhood. Hindus, Christians, Muslims and other believers walked the path of harmony. Sad to say in recent times groups of religious extremists are encouraging religious intolerance threatening the secular nature of our country. The negative effects of this phenomenon are felt all over India. Violence and crime are on the increase. Violence offends human dignity, freedom and life”.
Archbishop said: “Peace is a supreme good and good is not preserved with evil or the use of wrong means. St Paul says: do not let yourselves be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Evil is the irresponsible use of human freedom. To fight evil personal interests and good must give way to the common good, especially the wellbeing of those in need. Every individual must use his or her personal freedom with responsibility”.
The ideals of peace, understanding and co-operation, the Archbishop said must be pursued with ever greater intensity today: “Jesus Christ is the example for responding to this challenge. In his divine freedom Jesus answered evil with good, he led those who wanted to respond evil for evil on the path of forgiveness and understanding. When he criticised social injustice he never used methods which offended peace. He sowed the seeds of the Kingdom of peace through his unlimited love. We are all called to be channels of peace: let us work side by side for peace, like one family, with the witness of our life, to build a new society of peace, justice and reconciliation”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/2/2005 righe 38 parole 378)