• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 26 September 2013 17:58

Christianity in India a liberating force, but more to be done, especially for women

Fr-Joseph-M---350Christianity has had a liberating impact on Indian society, especially the tribal peoples and Dalits, but there is an ongoing need for the further liberation of women, both in wider society and within the Church, according to visiting Indian sociologist Fr Joseph Mundananikkal SVD.

Fr Joseph, who is the SVD National Co-ordinator for India of Mission, Education and Research, was keynote speaker at Mission Day celebrations held at Dorish Maru College in Melbourne, where he spoke about the influence of Christianity on Indian Culture.

He said while India is a predominantly Hindu country, the World Christian Database estimated that there were just over 68 million Christians in India in 2005, making India the seventh largest Christian population in the world.

“Christianity in India is as diverse as the subcontinent itself,” Fr Joseph said. “Generally, Christians of India can be categorised into three broad sections, namely Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical, with some groups inhabiting a hybrid space between two or three of these categories.”

Historically, the earliest of the Christian traditions in India can be traced back to St Thomas in around 52 CE, followed by the tradition of Thomas of Cana (345 CE), and then the Portuguese, French, Dutch and British interventions in the Subcontinent.

Fr Joseph said Christianity had a particular impact on the tribal cultures of India, offering tribal people an alternative tradition from Hinduism and helping them break out of the caste system.

For the Dalit communities (previously known as the Untouchables), Christianity offered a different world view and practice, leading the way to social change.

“Religious conversion is seen as an instance of social protest against the ignominies of discrimination based on the caste system,” he said.

“The Dalit life world in all its richness, variety and at the same time its association with marginalisation, has found expression in Dalit theology, which I consider as one of the important contributions of Indian Christianity.”

Dr-Monica-Jyotsna-MelancthonResponding to Fr Joseph’s presentation, Dr Monica Jyotsna Melancthon from the United Faculties of Theology MCD University of Divinity, spoke on the emancipatory effect of Christianity on women in India and the challenges still facing women, both Christian and non-Christian.

“One of the major contributions of Christianity to women’s emancipation has been enabling women to have an education,” Dr Melancthon said.

“What is left to do now is to ensure the education they receive is also feminist.”

This was a theme echoed by Fr Joseph in a presentation given to a gathering of priests and religious in Sydney, where he spoke on the Catholic Church in India and the challenges of gender justice.

He said that in India, although the situation of women is different among social classes and ethnic groups, women, irrespective of their culture and race, face systemic and structural discriminatory practices.

“In most socio-cultural communities in India, women’s human rights are limited by religious, cultural and traditional practices that are based on patriarchal norms,” he said.

Statistically, there are more boys born in India than girls because preference for boys leads to elimination of the female foetus and female infanticide. The literacy rate is 65 per cent for women and 80 for men; women work for longer hours and are paid less than men for the same work (about 75 per cent of the male wage); women are underrepresented in governance and decision-making positions; and violence against women is a multi-faceted reality, happening in the home, the workplace or in public spaces.

Fr Joseph said the Catholic Church in India has sought to address these issues by instituting the Gender Policy of the Catholic Church in 2009.

The policy aims to advocate on behalf of women in society and also to provide gender justice for women in Church workplaces and environments.

It addresses women’s situations in the family, in education and in social involvement and includes such initiatives as a strong denouncement of dowry, zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women, and the promotion of just wages for women, including women religious and domestic workers employed in Church institutions.

The policy affirms feminist theology and the pastoral work of women and proposes avenues for women to participate in the decision-making processes of the Church at all levels with the necessary training for leadership.

While welcoming the initiative, Fr Joseph said there were some glaring omissions in the policy.
“One instance that stands out is its double-speak when it comes to representation of women in church-run bodies and institutions,” he said.

“The policy strongly endorses a bill in the Indian Parliament which seeks to ensure 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and State Assemblies. When it comes to Church bodies, the policy is silent. It only talks of a very unclear and unsubstantiated ‘adequate’ representation.”

During his visit to Australia, Fr Joseph also delivered presentations to various groups in Brisbane, Bathurst and Orange.

Pictured below are Indian liturgical dancers taking part in the Eucharistic celebration which followed the Mission Day presentation at Dorish Maru College.