Mumbai – The Commission for Justice, Peace and Development (JPD) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) is organising a day of “Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Great Prophet, the late Archbishop Oscar Romero,” this Thursday, anniversary of the prelate’s murder (Martyrs’ Day in Italy). Events will take place in Mumbai’s Holy Name Cathedral. The JPD of the Archdiocese of Mumbai, together with the Consulate of El Salvador, agreed to the event in order to press Christians to follow the late bishop’s example and proclaim the Word of God to the poor and the oppressed.
“It is very urgent, that the life and work of Archbishop Romero on behalf of the poor and the marginalised be a model for the Indian Church. Whilst it is true that there have been numerous cases, when the Bishops have taken up cudgels on behalf of the marginalised society in India, a lot still needs to be done,” Fr Allwyn D’Silva, JPD President in Mumbai, told AsiaNews.
Almost 60 per cent of the Indian population belong to the marginalised segment of society, made up of those who suffer from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, political marginalisation, social discrimination, and limited human rights.
“By celebrating Romero Day, we are emphasising the need to follow his example by fighting for the rights of the marginalised through non-violent methods of protest. We need to be increasingly taking a stand for the poor, and not be afraid of the results. Archbishop Romero died for the cause,” Fr D’Silva explained.
“The wrong economic policies of the government,” and “globalisation without the interests of the human person at the core” are harmful,” he said. “Only certain sections of society have accrued the benefits of development, while the majority of marginalised communities have been relegated to sub-human existence.”
He was especially adamant about the fate of tribal communities, whose lands have been seized, and who have been forced to work as hired labourers in their own forests to the benefit of others.
“Industrialization and large-scale development projects have displaced more than forty million people, of whom 50 per cent belong to tribal communities. Statistics reveal that only 25 per cent of those displaced have been rehabilitated.”
“This destructive process has accelerated in recent years. The right to protest is being suppressed by the government. Social activists, priests, religious and lay people have been dragged to court because of their protests against human rights violations.”
“We are afraid of our institutions and minority status. In such a world, Romero had courage. He spoke against human rights violations and died defending the people, against those exploiting them.”