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Celebrate Diversity!
Some Challenges for the Church in India in 2010
By Fr. Cedric Prak
AHMEDABAD, Gujarat(SAR NEWS) --Another year has begun, and 2010 will be significant for the Church in India in more ways than one!

The United Nations has declared the year 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity and the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures. If one does a careful analysis of these two distinct observances, one will realise that at the core of both is a loud cry ‘to celebrate diversity.’

The Church in India has certainly done much in these two interrelated spheres. Our social activities have enabled hundreds and thousands of the poor and marginalised to have their rightful space in the preservation of the ecosystems and in sustainable living. Simultaneously, much work has been done in ensuring that men and women from all walks of life (especially the dalits and adivasis) have their rightful place in a society which has become more and more discriminatory and divisive.

Having said this, what then are the challenges for the Church in India in the year 2010, which will enable her to not merely live up to the person, mission and mandate of Jesus, but, also help in ensuring that she plays a significant role in the ushering of a more humane and just society? The challenges are thus:

* To see in what ways each one of us contributes to environmental devastation and ecological degradation and to substantially address them.

* To see how we could look into our own lifestyles, our consumeristic behaviour and look at newer and alternative ways of living.

* To take a very clear and forthright stand (as a Church) on mega-projects (like the Narmada Dam in Gujarat) and to join issue in people’s struggles whether it be the role of POSCO in Orissa or in the fact that the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy have still not got justice.

* To engage through our parish/diocesan councils in basic issues, such as access to clean drinking water, and to stop the pollution of our rivers and seas.

* To join in the celebrations of other religions/cultures and to invite them to ours.

* To welcome more easily people of different cultures, traditions and languages into our homes and neighbourhoods.

* To do all we can to enable that neither language nor rite becomes a divisive label in the practice of our faith.

The list is indeed endless! But the fact remains that 2010 is a clarion call for each one of us to awake from our slumber and to truly Celebrate Diversity!

(Fr. Cedric Prakash is the director of PRASHANT, the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace in Ahmedabad, Gujarat).

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