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Inside NCR

Tom Fox, NCR publisher, recently spent a month traveling throughout India with his wife, Kim Hoa. There he found Catholicism to be a minority church on the frontlines of many issues that touch on Catholic life today -- but also increasingly to be the target of persecution by hard-line Hindus who associate Catholicism with the empires of the West. Ironically, though, Indian theologians, established in efforts at interreligious dialogue with Hindus, find themselves at times at odds with Catholic prelates in Rome, who fault the theologians for failing to adequately proclaim the message of Jesus as universal savior.

Fox, impressed by the work of theologians and bishops of Asia, is working on a book on the churches of Asia for Orbis Books.

We invite readers, who are troubled by Fox’s report of persecutions, subject of this week’s cover story, to voice their concerns by writing to:
Amassador Lalit Mansingh
Embassy of India
2107 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C.

Or call: (202) 939-7000.
Fax: (202) 265-4351.

One could argue that Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan has been responsible for giving U.S. Catholics one of the more distinctive profiles in the public square.

Berrigan, whose conscientious protest of the Vietnam War and, more broadly, of the culture of nuclear weapons and of the continued production of the means of mass destruction, brought to the American Catholic church the image of priest in prison shackles.

This priest/poet also gave us the vocabulary for a different assessment of religion and culture than had traditionally been spoken from our pulpits. He makes us feel uneasy with the placement of the flag in the sanctuary.

His reading of the gospel and the times leads to unsettling conclusions:

  • Being the richest people on earth and having the easiest life of any culture in history do not necessarily equate with being good people or having God’s blessing;
  • Possessing the means to destroy the world and having the war machinery to inflict untold damage on others with little cost to ourselves is not necessarily a sign of God’s favor;
  • Being able to dominate other cultures, exploit other markets and the laborers in them does not mean we pursue a just cause.

Berrigan’s words and life have jarred many who, from the ranks of the hierarchy to everyday believers, take a new view of what it means to be Christian in America. His words stand as a needed counterweight to others in the public square who will always have more money and power behind their efforts to squeeze national interests between the lines of the gospel.

Berrigan, who has taught so many for so long, turns 80 this week. We wish him well and thank him for his latest gift to us on page 10.

-- Tom Roberts

My e-mail address is troberts@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, May 4, 2001