Musings of a 20-something lethargic IITian on India and Catholicism.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
When talking about St. Francis Xavier in the Indian context, one cannot help but notice that he is a man much despised by the Hindutva brigade:
Note: I wrote to Rajeev asking for specific references to the "Inquisition-happy" saint's atrocities; but have yet to receive a reply from him. Could it be that he has not failed to notice that the Portuguese Inquisition had already been in India before St. Francis came about? Could it be that he just blew his top off and combined St. Francis's evangelisation activities with those of the Portuguese sailors (Heck! They're both from Portugal, so ...)? Could it be that he didn't fail to notice that St. Francis, in fact, sought to adopt a method of evangelisation that was based on preaching and not force? That St. Francis did, in fact, actively encourage converts to stick to those customs that did not interfere with their Catholic spirituality? Could it be that, like most Hindutva writers (including Varsha Bhosle - and I'm coming to this later today) he's not let fact get in the way of propaganda?
Anyhow, the only factual reference I can see in any Hindutva bashing of St. Francis Xavier is this:
Another variation of this floating around is:
And what exactly is the criticism that the Hindutva brigade has against this?
A point that is (to put it simply) factually incorrect. One only has to look at the history of the St. Francis Xavier-Antonio Gomes (Rector of the College of St. Paul's in Goa) dispute to see the extent to which St. Francis fought to protect the right of Indian Christians to retain their ancient customs (where it did not run contrary to Christian doctrine and spirituality).
And, of course, the inconsistency in the Hindutva side shows up here too. "When all have been baptised ..." hardly seems to me to be an advocation of aggression on Hindu shrines in active use. When one looks at this quote in the context of the Babri Masjid demolition ("But the masjid has not been used for worship in nearly half a century, why should the Muslims care ...") one sees the inconsistency in the Hindutva position. For, if the demolition of the Masjid can be upheld on this basis; it logically follows that they cannot revile St. Francis for saying what he did (in his case, I should grant him some leeway considering the century he lived in!).
After a lot of hunting on the Net, that's about as much "factual" basis I can come up with for the Hindutva reviling of St. Francis Xavier. A lot of allegations without backing fact, and a quote that's twisted out of context.
What then drives the Right-wing to attack the Apostle of the East so much? Could it be that unless they tore down those examples of Christian living (St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Fr. Chavara Kuriakose) they fear that Indians may actually "crawl to the nearest church on their knees" (as Gandhi is reputed to have once said)? Or is it the general Hindutva feeling of insecurity that drives them to create enemies of shadows (first the Muslims, then the Christians)? posted by Kensy | 7:28 PM
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