Indian Catholic bishops reaffirm support of Dalits
Bengeluru: Gathering in Bangalore for the assembly of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, Catholic news agency Fides reports that the bishops said the church should not only promote development programs and social inclusion of the Dalits, but is also called to a deeper understanding of the causes and manifestations of deprivation, discrimination and exclusion of Dalit Christians within society, by the state and by the church. The organisation reports that at the end of the assembly, the bishops committed themselves to helping Catholic educational institutions to create spaces for disadvantaged Dalit students, to fostering initiatives aimed at promoting the rights and development of Dalits, and to removing every trace of discrimination based upon caste. There are some 200 million Dalits in India, making up about 60 per cent of the 2.3 per cent of the population who identify as Christians. Under the caste system, their lives are marked by extreme poverty, unworthiness, shame and humiliation, impotence and social exclusion. Most are landless peasants. The Catholic Bishops have joined with the National Council of Churches in India (which unites the Protestant denominations) in instituting ‘Dalit Liberation Sunday’ which is held every second Sunday in November.