CBCl  Meeting at Pune

January 1992


1. The situation in the country and in the church had a marked influence in the reflection of the General Body Meeting of CBCI held in Pune, where 119 Bishops along with Secretaries of Commissions and other experts met from January 7 to 13, 1992. Three questions engaged our attention : Dalits, Women and Unorganised labour. We reflected on them in a Christian spirit, often with a sense of sorrow.

(a) The restlessness and agitation of Dalit Christians were discussed in depth. They have some legitimate grievances, though not all of equal gravity and verisimilitude. Whatever may have been the past, undoubtedly much has been done already, even though it may be found inadequate. We ask all to work untidily to see that justice is meted to our Dalit brethren.

The demands of the Dalits can be put mainly under three heads.

1. Those which concern socio-economic benefits, education, housing, jobs, etc. The Church has done much in this regard. We have asked Regional and Diocesan authorities to redouble their efforts on a priority basis with a special emphasis on education for all. National, Regional and Diocesan Social Service Societies will tackle this problem on a priority basis. Other dioceses of India within their possibilities, will be at their service.
2. Empowerment of Dalits in the structures of the Church. This is an urgent request, only it takes time. Many efforts have been made. More needs to be done as soon as it is possible, without waiting to do the most perfect. We ask all to work patiently, untidily and in a Christian spirit towards this end. It this is achieved, we will have resolved an important aspect of this question.
3. Respect. This demands that Catholics of the upper castes-Bishops, Priests, Religious, Laity-change their attitude towards the Dalits. In the Church, all are God's Children, our only glory being the sonship of God given to us at baptism. "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek: all have the same Lord, who gives with abundance to whoever calls on Him" (Rom 10, 12). We plead with all to reflect seriously on this, and by their change of attitude to build up the Church of Christ, the one family of God.

The question of cemeteries has agitated the minds of many. To begin with, it must be stated that the Church has never encouraged separate cemeteries. There seems to be one or two, the private property of some families. It is recommended that in future the Church does not conduct any funeral service in any such private cemetery which excludes any group of Catholics on f he basis of caste.

Let us avoid all forms of violence and unchristian language Certainly whatever be the good end in view, wrong means cannot but harm the family of love that is the Church. Our other efforts in this line with the Government, must continue with unabated vigor. We urge all organizations at the national and regional level, which have been involved in them, to persevere and intensify their efforts. The presence of the representatives of religious and lay experts and, most of all, the assurance that we are continuing the mission of Jesus, strengthen us as we leave Pune to implement in our dioceses, various plans which this vision of the Church has prompted in our hearts.