Indian Catholics Express Solidarity With 'Untouchables'

Mark Dalit Liberation Sunday

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NEW DELHI, India, DEC. 13, 2011 ( Parishes in India celebrated Dalit Liberation Sunday last weekend, with Christians renewing their commitment to those of Dalit origin who still suffer from the traditional practice of untouchability.

The annual day is marked on the nearest Sunday to International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. The theme this year was «Our God With the Struggling People.»

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the National Council of Churches in India support the celebration; special liturgical guidelines were sent to all the dioceses and the religious congregations.

«Indian society is still under the grip of caste culture that perpetuates ethos, attitudes, structures of inequality and dehumanizing untouchable practices,» a statement at the bishops’ Web site noted. «Contrary to the Gospel vision of Christ, ‘caste mentality’ prevails within the Christian community. ‘It violates the God-given dignity and equality of the human person. Human dignity and respect are due to the human person and any denial of this is a sin against God and humans. (See Statement on Caste by Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Tiruchirappalli, January, 4-14, 1982).»

The bishops’ site affirmed that Dalit Liberation Sunday has «instilled in the people of God the hope that God leads their struggle to demand equal rights for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims and the efforts to build inclusive communities of justice, peace and joy.»

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