The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Church walks it to mandir

Abhay Vaidya
[ Tuesday, October 25, 2005 11:30:33 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

PUNE: The Catholic church will take up the study of Sanskrit, adapt to monastic life in an ashram and adopt the Hindu ritual of aarti during mass if the movement towards 'Indianisation of the church' gets the nod from 400 priests and five bishops congregating in Pune.

Starting Tuesday, Pune's Papal Seminary, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its transfer from Kandy (Sri Lanka) to the city, will play host to the priests for three days.

Discussions will cover the state of the church in India and the movement for its Indianisation.

The Catholic church has already adopted a number of Indian traditions and practices and has come a long way, four decades after the historic Second Vatican Council (1962-65) brought an epochal shift in the modern church through its declaration on religious liberty.

Pune's Papal Seminary, which has ordained over 1,250 priests during the past 50 years, has continued with its modernisation effort along with its associate institutions such as the Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), formerly the Pontifical Anthenaeum, and the De Nobili College.

Pune-based Catholic leaders such as Joseph Neuner, Kurien Kunnumpuram, Francis X D'Sa, John Vattanky and Subhash Anand have been stressing for lesser control from the Vatican, to make the church "truly Indian and genuinely Christian".

'Many Christian priests follow ancient ashram system strictly'

Has the time come for churches in India to turn 'truly Indian'?

Francis X D'Sa, an internationally acclaimed Sanskrit scholar has noted in his paper published in 'Dreams and Visions: New Horizons for an Indian Church (2002)':

"Today, the time has come for the Indian church to shed its image of a multinational company and retrieve those characteristics which bring out its ‘Catholicity' in the best sense of the word."

Pandikattu Kuruvilla, teacher of philosophy at JDV and the Papal Seminary's rector, Ornellas Coutinho, explained that a number of Indian religious customs and practices have already been embraced by the Catholic church to become truly Indian.

"A number of Christian priests, for example, strictly follow the ancient Indian ashram system of monastic life, such as those at the Bethany Vedavijnana Peeth (Pune), Satchitananda Ashram (Trichy), Kurusumala Ashram (Kerala) and the Sameskshna Ashram (Kalady, Kerala)," said Kuruvilla.

"Practising vegetarianism, organising satsangs and reading Bhagvad Gita are some of the changes that have taken place," he said.

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