ASIA/INDIA - Twenty five years of courses on Christianity in a state university help remove objections posed by radicals and fundamentalists of other religions

Thursday, 17 February 2005

Bangalore (Fides Service) - For 25 years the State University in Mysore, in the south western Indian state of Karnataka, opened in 1980, has offered courses on Christianity, its history and development. The university was one of the first state colleges in India to offer courses on Christianity, an initiative also taken by universities in Madras and Mangalore.
Today after 25 local Christians, students, civil authorities, intellectuals Christian and non and non believers agree that the course served to make known the authentic nature and message of faith in Jesus Christ in a context in which Hindu extremists tried to defame it, accusing missionaries and local Christians of trying to convert Hindus and offering social service to encourage conversion”.
Recalling the anniversary Salesian Fr Paul Puthanangady, told Fides: “25 years of service in this university, one of India’s oldest, have borne fruits and not only at the academic level: we have offered charismatic teaching which combined didactics with witness of life. This was all thanks to the first teacher charged with this responsibility Father D.S. Amalorpavadass, a prophet, a true disciple of Christ who promoted dialogue among religions and cultures and worked to implement the instructions of Vatican II in the religious dimension of India”.
The Catholic Bishop of Mysore, Mgr Thomas Vazhapilly recalled the farsightedness of his predecessor, Bishop Mathias Fernandez, who convinced the civil authorities to allow a course in Christianity to be offered at a state college. Bishop Vazhapilly said the course has “sown harmony and peace in the minds and hearts of young Indians and will continue to do so pace”, improving the understanding in India of Christianity and its authentic nature.
An Indian Catholic told Fides: “Catholic universities offer courses on other religions and interreligious dialogue. Teaching non Christians to understand the basic elements and authentic nature of Christianity and its message of charity, helps to lessen objections raised by fundamentalist religious groups ”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/2/2005 lines 27 words 270)