By DCD Reporter
It is the eve of the Feast of Saint Devasagayam, alias Lazarus. Pope Francis has announced the appointment of five bishops and an auxiliary bishop in India.
Fr. Valan Arasu for the Diocese of Jabalpur, Fr. Jeevanandam Amalanathan for Kumbakonam, Fr. Albert George Alexander Anastas for the Diocese of Kuzhithurai, Fr. Bhaskar Jesuraj of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Agra as Bishop of Meerut, Fr. Duming Dias of the clergy of the Diocese of Shimoga as Bishop of Karwar, and Fr. Justin Alexander Madathiparambil, until now Vicar General of the Vijayapuram Diocese as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Vijayapuram.
Two Vicar Generals have become bishops. We congratulate and offer our prayers for the pastoral ministry of these newly appointed bishops.
But what about the continuous requests, petitions, and demands of the Dalit Christians in the Catholic Church in India? They have been raising this question for a long time.
Whenever the announcement of bishops comes, it becomes a disappointment for the Dalits. The sharing of responsibilities at the decision-making level has not been shared with the people who remain oppressed, ignored, and vulnerable in the Catholic Church in India.
The appointment of the bishops in India is always a disappointment to the Dalit Christians, says a 67-year-old woman from Villupuram.
What are the responses of the Dalit Catholics to the recent appointment of the bishops in India?
“We congratulate you, but why are the majoritarian Dalit Christians ignored in these appointments? It is not about the appointment of bishops who are not Dalits, but the constant ignorance of the Dalit Catholics,” says John Britto, President of the Dalit Christian Teachers Welfare Society.
“Are the priests of Dalit origin or not qualified? Did the Dalit priests reveal their ineligibility?” asks Britto.
Dalit Christians are discriminated against continuously. They are used for projects and other developmental work. Even after six years since the promulgation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) Dalit Empowerment Policy in 2016, the dioceses in India have not tried to empower the Dalits.
The church leaders use Dalit Christians to maintain their power politics but do not intend to see them taking on leadership roles.
“We have submitted 1000 memoranda, and so many delegations went to Rome to speak about the plight of the Dalit Christians, and till today, the church leaders have not taken efforts seriously. We are disappointed, kept aside, and vulnerable,” says a Dalit leader.
Given that the Catholic Church does not pay attention to Dalit Christians, our faith in the Church is in doubt today. The recent appointment of the six bishops in India shows that the church leaders are not with the suffering Dalit Christians. They treat them as slaves and remain superior.
The church leaders think that Dalit Christians should not come and protest the recent appointment. The Catholic Church remains silent about the plight of the oppressed.
The kingdom of God, which is for the poor and downtrodden, is forgotten today. This was proven in the recent appointment.
This is a statement from an experienced, knowledgeable person who has been fighting for the rights of Dalit Christians for the past 30 years.
Dalits having all the necessary qualifications should not expect the anointed bishops to support them in the selection process of “Blessings.”
Whatever the degree of friendship with non-Dalits, Dalits will endure unimaginable tactics of denigration. God is just a mute spectator. Let’s hope, “These Dalit-friendly bishops will spend their lifetimes uplifting only the Dalits,” bemoans Paul Robinson, a Dalit Christian from Chennai.