The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) has spoken out against the dangers of a Hindu-nationalist agenda and 'monoculturalism'. It comes alongside a recognition by the Indian government of a spike in religiously-motivated hate crime.
The CBCI met for its biennial assembly in Bangalore, concluding last week, as World Watch Monitor reported.
Its closing statement declared: 'Any attempt to promote nationalism based on any one particular culture or religion is a dangerous position. It may lead to uniformity but never to genuine unity. Such misconceived efforts can only lead our nation on the path of self-annihilation.'
It added: 'Mono-culturalism has never been and can never be the right answer to the quest for peace, progress and development, especially in a country like ours that has a rich diversity of culture, language, region, race and religion. Violence always recoils upon the violent sooner or later, "For all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).'
It was revealed earlier in February in India's parliament that religious-based violence is on the rise, confirming the long-standing claims of human rights groups, as UCA News reported.
Statistics presented revealed that 111 individuals were killed in sectarian violence in 2017, a rise from 86 in 2016. The same period saw 822 recorded incidents of violence compared with 703 in 2016.
The bishops' statement added that it 'deplored' the 'rising incidence of atrocities against women, killings, caste rivalries and communal violence which includes attacks on Christian institutions and communities... Authentic nationalism respects the human dignity of every citizen, regardless of one's economic status, culture, religion, region or language'.
It promised collaboration with the government in pursuit of law and order, service to the poor and oppressed, and made an 'appeal to all our fellow citizens to eschew mob culture and vigilantism in favour of peace'.
The statement drew on the uniting legacy of India's national icon: 'The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has stated in clear terms that "The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed".'