By TCN News,
Mumbai: Several Indian Christians have criticized demand by some catholic groups to ban a play titled ‘Agnes of God’ and have requested not to consider protest against play by certain Christians as the views of the entire Christian community.
Objecting to protest spearheaded by Joseph Dias, Secretary, Catholic Secular Forum, the group released a joint press statement where it said such demands by him is tarnishing the image of entire community and the views expressed by him are his own and of his organization and should not be portrayed as the views of the entire Catholic community.
“His demands are sensational in nature and are self serving to attract media attention unto himself and we are opposed to the same”, the press release by the group reads.
It also called ‘disturbing’ the demand of ban endorsed by Catholic religious leadership, particularly the apex body (CBCI –Catholic Bishops Conference of India) because it “misinterprets the religious belief of the Christian Community and wrongly portrays character of thousands of the clergy who are committed to a life of celibacy”.
The group also says banning of books, plays or artistic work on the pretext of “hurting religious sentiments” amounts to ‘violation of freedom of expression’ and therefore they called upon the Church hierarchy to restrain from subscribing to this trend.
They have endorsed the views expressed by Jacob Peenikaparambil, CMI (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate), who sent an open letter to Cardinal Cleemis (President of the apex body, CBCI) and questioned why the Church is spending its energy on a non-issue while several crucial issues facing minority communities have remained unaddressed.
Instead of focusing on a non issue, Peenikaparambil, while commenting on the recent lynching of Akhlaq Ahmed in Dadri due to allegation that he was storing beef in refrigirator, has expressed concern that the Church should take initiative to bring together all secular forces committed to the protection of human rights and approach the National Human Rights Commission against increasing attacks on minorities in the country.
At the end of the joint statement, the group said, “We endorse his views and hope that the Church gets more involved in defense of democratic values, right of freedom of speech and expression and rights of minorities and concerns of gender justice in the country.”
Following people have signed against the demand of ban on the opening of play “Agnes of God”:
Flavia Agnes, Director, Majlis Legal Centre
Virginia Saldanha, Secretary, Indian Christian Women’s Movement
Sr. Noella D’Souza, member of the Mumbai based organization, Styashodhak, which was formed in 1985 to bring to the fore the concerns of Roman Catholic women
Sr. Julie George, a lawyer and Director of a Pune based organization, Streevani, which works for the empowerment of women, and helps marginalized women to access their rights in court
Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, an expert in Christian theology and a member of the Mumbai Women’s Desk Core Team
Brinelle Ds’ouza, Faculty, Centre for Health and Mental Health, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Fr. Cedric Prakash, Prashant Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Dr. John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council (NIC) of India and Secretary General,All India Christian Council
Suren Abreu, Satyashodhak
Mario da Penha, PhD Candidate in History, Rutgers University
Larrisa Pitter, Freelance Consultant –
Conrad Pereira, Mumbai
Nadia D’souza, Student, School of Fashion Technology, Pune
Asha Banu Soletti, Professor, Centre for Health and Mental Health, TISS
Dr. Jennifer Kipgen, Assistant Professor, Centre for Health and Mental Health, TISSProf. Anjali Monteiro, TISS
Anzu Augustine, Kerala
Fr Allwyn D’Silva, Parish Priest
Rohan D’souza, Student
Eldred Tellis, Consultant, Drug Abuse and AIDS Interventions,
Pooja Paul, Delhi
‘Agnes of God’: An old play with new controversy after catholic groups protest