New Delhi (CBCI News): A workshop on Catholic Social Teaching was conducted by the Justice, Peace and Development Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (JPDO-CBCI), at Social Development Centre, Ranchi, on 21 and 22 October 2013. The two-day workshop was inaugurated by Most Rev Binay Kandulna, Bishop of Khunti, who said that the essence of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church was an integral and solidary humanism. In support of his statement, he cited the opening sentence of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”
The very first presentation at the workshop was by Fr Charles Irudayam, Secretary of JPDO-CBCI. He shed light on the fact that Catholic Social Teaching looks at social, political, economic, and cultural realities, and engages in dialogue with those realities in order to transform them. He pointed out that the Catholic Social Teaching was Church’s invitation to all Christians to social activism. He also explained to the participants the foundational principles of the Catholic Social teaching that provided a roadmap to social activism.
Because of its concern for the dignity of every human person, the Church emphasises the protection of human rights. Hence two human rights activists – Ms Anu Singh of Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS) and Mr Anup Hore of Plan India –were invited to make special presentations on the rights of women and children. They pointed out that both the women and the children in Jharkhand were the most underdeveloped and were in need of special solidarity and advocacy efforts.
Later Fr Stanny SJ, Secretary of the Tribal Desk of the CBCI, drew the attention of the participants to the plight of the tribal population in Jharkhand and in other states of India. He said that the tribals were de-scheduled when they moved out of their native states, and even the scheduled territories were being de-scheduled, as a consequence of which the tribals were displaced from their villages where they had been living for centuries. He argued that the mainstream development had only victimised and marginalised them. He also urged for an inclusive and integral development, and for the empowerment of the marginalised tribals by having recourse to the following legal safeguards: the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (or PESA), 1996; and the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
In the light of the aforementioned presentations, the participants were engaged in serious discussions in order to map out strategic interventions for achieving integral and inclusive development.The participants also stated that Catholic Social Teaching would be an inspirational and influential factor and that their life and mission would be guided by the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
The workshop was attended by 73 people, most of whom were priests and nuns from 8 dioceses of Jharkhand. The participants included the Directors of the Diocesan Social Work Societies from the 8 dioceses of Jharkhand. The local convenor of the event was Fr Christudas, Director of Social Initiatives for Growth and Networking (SIGN).
Dr Charles Irudayam
Office for Justice, Peace and Development, CBCI