A Program for Family and Laity in India
Project Code: 317-07-49
The Regional Commission for Family and Laity organizes regular training programs in Sagar, one of the major cities in the heart of the central Indian province of Madhya Pradesh, not far from the state capital Bhopal. The focus of these programs is on pastoral and spiritual guidance for families and lay people in the nine dioceses of the state of Madhya Pradesh.
The work of this commission is important for the Catholic Church in India, for although religious freedom is supposedly enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution, in reality it is not respected in all Indian states. In Madhya Pradesh, an "anti-conversion" law has been introduced that threatens penalties of up to five years imprisonment and or heavy fines for those in any way engaged in "conversion activities." And in July 2006 this law was made even more punitive by the ruling State government of the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Now every religious conversion must be reported at least one month in advance to the relevant authorities, on pain of criminal conviction for convert and priest alike. In practice, however, it is often enough merely to be accused of wounding the religious sensitivities of others, in order to be arrested. Christian missionaries, who above all care for the poor, the Dalits (casteless) and the members of the indigenous tribal peoples, are falsely accused of converting such people by deception, money and force.
Training programs also counsel the laity in legal questions and help them to practice their faith, together with their fellow Catholics in the parishes. As one example, representatives from each of the dioceses came together in Sagar for a marriage preparation course. A religious spoke about the Christian understanding of marriage, while a well-known lawyer addressed the delicate legal situation and another priest discussed the psychological and communicative elements of married life. The participants learned many practical tips, thus enabling them to return to their own parishes and conduct preparatory seminars of the same kind. By offering selected literature, constructive discussion time, evaluations and proposed solutions, which the teams initially learn in small seminars, the participants are equipped to help the Catholics in their own parishes to live their family life and faith with stronger and more Christian values. In this way the commission is making an important contribution to greater tolerance, mutual respect, and hence also to peace in the country.
ACN has been supporting the work of the commission for five years now, and for 2013 and 2014 the charity contributed $4,600 so that training programs and follow-up seminars could be held. Will you now give to continue support for this program for families and laity in India?
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.