The animating drive of globalization is the spread of Western principles of individual freedom, respect and dignity each individual has as an inalienable right, and when we examine the current state of the society in India, as this excerpt from a recent article does, we see the vital importance that this work be continued.
India’s Two Plagues: The “Missing Women” and Violence Against Christians
The first of these number in the tens of millions, killed in their mothers’ wombs or as infants. As for anti-Christian intolerance, the latest explosion has taken place in Orissa. Behind it are fanatics of Hinduism and of the higher castes
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, February 20, 2008 – As well as in China, the Catholic Church is also being harshly tested in the other Asian giant, India.
There are two issues above all that the Catholic Church of India must face.
The first concerns “the promotion of woman in the Church and in society,” the title of the plenary assembly of the Indian bishops, who are meeting February 13-20 in Jamshedpur, 800 miles southeast of the capital of Delhi.
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the pontifical council for the laity, came from Rome to inaugurate the important assembly, which is held every two years.
In his inaugural address, he placed the emphasis on the plague of female feticide and infanticide.
The killing of girls both in their mothers’ womb and after their birth – often by feeding them poisonous plants or drowning them, to simulate an accident – is a very widespread practice in India. In many families, the birth of a daughter is considered an unbearable burden, partly because of the very expensive dowry that must accompany her future marriage. The possibility of knowing the sex of the unborn child in advance has increased beyond measure the selective abortion of girls.
To halt the slaughter, the Indian government has prohibited the identification of a child’s sex before birth, but this ban is largely circumvented. The effect is an astonishing demographic imbalance between males and females, which in some places has reached radical extremes. In the state of Madhya Pradesh, in the districts of Bhind and Morena, there are now only 400 women for every 1,000 men.
The Catholic Church is fighting to oppose this phenomenon and reawaken consciences, in accord with other religious confessions. The latest initiative in this vein is an appeal launched at the end of January by 200 Indian religious leaders, of the Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Sikh faiths, against this “crime against God and against humanity.”
A no less vigorous international campaign against the plague of the “missing women” of India and other countries was begun in Italy last September by the secular intellectual Giuliano Ferrara, director of the opinion daily “il Foglio.”
The second reality that is harshly testing the Church in India is the anti-Christian violence on the part of fanatical Hindu groups.
It is a violence that has risen to a crescendo in recent years, especially in certain states. Gujarat and Orissa are among them. In Orissa, which faces the Bay of Bengal, south of Calcutta, Australian Protestant missionary Graham Staines and his two children were killed after their car was set on fire in 1999.
Those who are hostile toward Christians accuse them of proselytizing, and therefore violating the Hindutwa, the identification between India and Hinduism asserted by intolerant Hindu nationalist currents. In reality, out of 1.2 billion Indians, Christians of all confessions make up little more than 2 percent. And they are not expanding, but slowly declining: from 2.6 percent in 1971 to 2.3 percent in 2001.
But at the same time, Christians run one of every five elementary schools in India, one of every four houses for widows and orphans, and one out of three houses for lepers and AIDS patients. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the nation’s pride. Except among fanatical Hinduists.