Mumbai: No harm in backtracking if government feels it has erred, says Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Updated: 25 December, 2019 07:16 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Cardinal Oswald Gracias says religion should never be made a dividing factor

Cardinal Oswald Gracias at his birthday celebrations
Cardinal Oswald Gracias at his birthday celebrations

Besides being Christmas Eve, December 24 holds an important place in the heart of Mumbai's Catholic community for another reason. It is the birthday of Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay. He celebrated his 75th birthday at the Archbishop's House in Colaba on Tuesday amid followers, friends, well-wishers and
parishioners.

After the blessing ceremony in the courtyard at 12 noon, some of the Archbishop's friends, such as Father Tony who has known him for long, said a few words inside the main hall. This was followed by a chorus of "Happy birthday to you" while the Cardinal cut the cake, and some fun activities and games between staffers. Speaking to mid-day amid his birthday celebrations, Cardinal Oswald Gracias stressed on the importance of having an inter-religious dialogue, and the responsibilities that come with being "men of service."

'Do what is right'

"I have held multiple offices (he is also the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India) and I have realised that it is important to be men of service and have faith in God, no matter which religion you belong to," he said. "There are many challenges...in some circumstances, one might be pressured to do the wrong thing, but in these cases, it is even more important to do what is right. If you appease people, then you will repent later." Speaking of the Archbishop's office, he said, "Any responsibility in the form of a title is actually an honour."

When asked about the political turmoil in the country over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), he said, "Religion should never be made a dividing factor. I am very keen on inter-religious dialogue between people of different faiths — this will knock off any prejudices and eventually help to understand and appreciate each other. I want the Catholic community to be at the forefront of this... to build bridges."

Cardinal Oswald Gracias says inter-religious dialogue will help knock off any prejudices
Cardinal Oswald Gracias says inter-religious dialogue will help knock off any prejudices

"Another important thing is to have love for the nation. If we truly feel strongly about India, then we must work for the country, to the point of being ready to sacrifice for it. Therefore, the most important part is that of reflection and exchange of ideas. Reading and knowing the thoughts of others helps one's own thoughts to mature and conceptualise a better India, in which everyone is like one big family. This is what should be our priority."
'Violence is not right'

Speaking of the anti-CAA protests, the Archbishop said, "Violence is not right. A continuous discussion must take place. The students should be ready to come forward and discuss their difficulties, and the government should be willing to engage. The government wants a better India, and if after reflection, they feel that they have made some mistake, then there is no harm in backtracking. We need to look at the larger picture."

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First Published: 25 December, 2019 07:01 IST

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