The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue has issued a Message to Hindus in occasion of Diwali (Deepavali), the Festival of Lights.
The theme of this year's message is - Hindus and Christians: Committed to Integral Human Development
I am not especially thrilled with the language of the document, some of which reads:
Religious Festivals enable us to revitalize our relationship with God and one another. May this Festival of Lights, while elevating our minds and hearts towards God, the Supreme Light, strengthen fellowship among us and bless us all with happiness and peace.
I am willing to let this slide, however. I understand the need to play the game, and Cardinal Tauran neither invented the tradition, nor asked for the job.
There is really nothing wrong with what Cardinal Tauran calls for, or rather, with the kind of cooperation to which he invites Catholics and Hindus:
Let us all, as people of good will, join together to dispel every darkness that hinders a true vision of co-existence, religious harmony and integral development for each and every person.
I subscribe to this call, and promise to do my best in this direction.
Rather more upsetting to me is what is missing from the Message.
You see, I think our Hindu friends in, say, Orissa, could use some more basic instruction in the conditions necessary to integral human development, before we try our hand at creating the conditions sufficient for its flourishing.
In the Message, I would have liked to see something like the following:
Integral human development is only possible if you do not murder your Christian neighbors.
Systematically raping Christian women and girls is also unhelpful, never more so than when they are in the bonds of religion.
Whether accomplished by simple theft or outright destruction, violent dispossession of your Christian neighbors is not the best way forward on the road to integral human development, either.
It is, moreover, our firm conviction that, vis-à-vis integral human development, both torching Christian houses of worship and burning Christian families out of their homes and businesses, so that their only recourse is to hide in the forest and live for months like hunted animals, are almost certainly counterproductive.
What was it that Paul VI said?
"If you want peace, work for justice." I think that was it.
Good thing for me I am smart enough to understand how preparing for war can be a work of justice (Cf. Gaudium et spes n. 79).