The crisis of credibility is a wake-up call for the Church in India, and the best way to regain is to follow Jesus, who “lived what he taught and what he taught, he lived,” say Catholic theologians in the country. The eroding credibility the Church suffers now is caused by forces outside as well as factors inside, says a statement from the Indian Theological Association.
Although the Church has undertaken concerted efforts to present it as credible in an increasingly hostile environment, it lacks a professional approach to deal with attack in the media and other forums, said the annual meet of the association held online. As many as 45 theologians from across the country addressed the theme, “The Church in India Today: Credibility and Witness,” based on the papers presented by scholars.
The April 25-28 conference noted an urgency to deal with the crisis and reclaim the Church’s credibility so that it becomes authentic in its mission of proclamation and witness. The statement was released to the press on August 11.
According to the theologians, more vexing issues that trouble the Church come from within. The theologians have acknowledged that scandals and scams have severely affected the Church in India. The misuse of power and money, caste discrimination, Dalit and Tribal under-representation, gender discrimination and sexual abuse, and lack of financial accountability have added to the Church’s woes, they add.
“The unfortunate reality in India is that, such instances are not always honestly investigated, nor are the accused persons or bodies audited with transparency,” the statement bemoans.
Regarding the sexual abuse of children and women in the Church, the statement was forthright: “Shrouded in silence, this endemic evil has been kept hidden for a long time… It is not only an individual clergyman’s inappropriate sexual conduct that calls to question the credibility of the Church. It is also the approach taken by the ecclesiastical authority in dealing with this issue that puts at stake, all the more, the Church’s integrity and credibility.”
The statement also cautions about the increasing clericalism in the Church.