The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has expressed deep pain and anguish at the incidents against women in Kathua, Unnao and other places in the country.
We are not a soulless nation. If we were, then the outpouring of anger as we have seen it across the nation would not have been manifest. Our nation has a soul, a heart and a mind. A soul to respond to these unspeakable crimes committed against women, a heart that reaches out in empathy and solidarity and a mind that does not fall for hate games played by those who wish to pollute the sacred secular fibre of the nation.
It is hard to be unmoved by what has happened in Kathua, how brutally an eight year child was assaulted, molested and cruelly murdered or in Unnao, or in any part of the nation where women are raped and murdered. What has made the incidents in Kathua and Unnao even more deplorable is the justification by certain sections of society; the very people who should uphold the rule of law have either become the alleged perpetrators or the defenders of the indefensible. There is no justification for rape; none what so ever and every voice of sanity must speak out in one voice against such crimes.
In a way humanity was thrown out of the window in Kathua and Unnao and replaced by the darkest side of human behaviour. The repeated targeting of women and children as a tool or agenda for personal, religious or political gain is nothing less than a crime against humanity and it is here that we look for the voices of sanity, in the pillars of democracy to speak out boldly and immediately; for when this is not done it gives a boost to actions of the perpetrators of such crimes. If justice is then delayed is justice denied and injustice not called out in time is injustice encouraged.
The eight year girl in Kathua and the twenty year old maiden from Unnao and every woman is our daughter, our sister, our mother. Their religion or caste does not in any way make them belong less to us.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India stands firmly with the victims of these and every horrific crime committed in our nation. We condemn strongly these dastardly incidents or elements that have committed or supported such acts which have brought great shame on our nation.
Ours is a nation that has produced great women leaders, social reformers, politicians and women who walk the corridors of power and yet our women are subjected daily to the most unspeakable crimes. This must stop now and the Catholic Church in India wishes to lend its voice and resolve in speaking up against such barbaric acts of violence against women.
Let us remember what Swami Vivekananda told us: "Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are now."
May the Almighty grant us wisdom and enlightenment and may we as one people stand up and oppose crime and injustice in all its forms.
God bless our women, God bless each and every Indian. God bless our Country.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX
Secretary General Catholic Bishops' Conference of India