All India Catholic Union observed the Mahatma’s death anniversary as a martyr’s day
Indian Christians across different denominations observed Jan. 30, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, by fasting and praying for the unity and progress of their motherland.
The All India Catholic Union (AICU), a 102-year-old laity forum, had called on Christians to observe the day as a martyr’s day. The call was endorsed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Protestant National Council of Churches in India, and the Evangelical Fellowship of India.
In the national capital New Delhi, some 100 people led by Auxiliary Bishop Deepak Valerian Tauro joined a prayer meeting.
“We solely affirm our solidarity with people worldwide who love freedom, democracy, equality and peaceful coexistence,” said Lancy D. Cunha, AICU national president, in a press statement.
On the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, Christians in India reminded themselves of “the resolve of our forefathers, especially the freedom fighters and constitutional authors, that the land of our country shall be to live and let live in peace” while pledging to “redouble our efforts in full steam through the enormous level of support that we are receiving from people of all faiths and nationalities who want Indian democracy to thrive once again.”
AICU national coordinator A.C. Michael told UCA News that “a strong message of peace and love was sent across India by the Christian community” on the day.
The Christian community’s role in education, health and the empowerment of women, Dalits and tribal people was also acknowledged by participants
“Christians do not believe in forced conversions and are as much Indian as the rest of the country’s people,” he said.
Prayers and fasts were also held across India, covering every state or province and the union territories, highlighting the Christian community’s existence in the country since the first century of the Christian era.
The Christian community’s role in education, health and the empowerment of women, Dalits and tribal people was also acknowledged by participants.
Community members recalled how Mahatma Gandhi became one of the greatest moral forces the modern world has seen and successfully led the peaceful resistance to colonial rule in India.
Though he was assassinated, those behind the violent act failed to kill his ideas of communal harmony and coexistence of many religious groups, the AICU affirmed.
The Catholic organization, which represents almost 19.9 million Catholics in India comprising the Latin rite, Syro-Malabar Church and Syro-Malankara Church, has 120 diocese and district units.
The AICU is active in propagating the Church’s social teachings, which have evolved over the decades to equip people to play a meaningful role in the Church, community and secular society.