Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery of Integrated Human Development at the Vatican will be the keynote speaker at a two-day conference on 'Christian Responsibility to Dalits and Caste Discrimination' at Amigo Hall by St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, which opens on Tuesday 9th May 2017.
In 2013, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican and The Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches jointly selected Dalits and Caste Discrimination as the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU 2013).
WPCU 2013 categorically highlights the existence of ‘great injustice to Dalits in India and in the Church’. It further states that “Dalit communities are considered to be the most polluted and polluting, and thus placed outside the caste system, and were previously even called ‘untouchable’. Due to castism Dalits are socially marginalised, politically under represented, economically exploited and culturally subjugated. Almost 80% of Indian Christians have a Dalit background.”
In a recently released Policy of Dalit Empowerment in the Catholic Church in India, the Chairperson for CBCI Office for SC/BC states that the practice of untouchability does exist in the Church.
In the UK, Parliament has enacted Equality Act (2010/ 13) Section 9(5,) making caste an aspect of race, and awaits implementation after a recently announced Caste Consultation which ends on 15th July 2017.
This conference has been organised by the Christian Network Against Caste Discrimination (CNACD), which has evolved from a joint WPCU 2013 celebration of Southall Churches Together, and subsequent conversations. CNACD meets monthly at St Anselm’s Church, Southall, West London and is chaired by Fr Gerard Mitchell SJ.
This conference is an opportunity to hear the voices of Dalit struggles in the Church and the general society both here and in South Asia. It will be an occasion to hear from those who speak powerfully and authoritatively on this subject from national and international perspectives.
Speakers include: Cardinal Peter Turkson; Lord Bishop Richard Harries; Bishops’ Neethinathan, Anthony Poola and Sarat Chandra Nayak [of Catholic Bishops Conference India]; Mr Satpal Muman, Chair, CasteWatchUK; Mr. Kevin Hyland, Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner; Fr Bosco, [India]; Dr. George Kunneth, School of Inter-disciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford; Prof Dr Mary John, Chair, DALITAID India; Prof David Mosse, School of Oriental and African Studies; Mrs Marie Marcel Thekaekara, Journalist [India]; Ms HH Deepa, National Council of Dalit Christians [India]; Ms Nadia, Co-ordinator, BOND Group on Caste and Development; Ms Meena Varma, Chair, International Dalit Solidarity Network + Director, Dalit Solidarity Network UK; Mr Neil Thorns, Advocacy Director, CAFOD; Dr Peter David, Trustee, Scottish Church in Pakistan; Mr George VJ, General Secretary, DALITAID [India]; Ms Haifa Unagapen, Most Vulnerable Children Inclusion Advisor, World Vision; Dr Valeria Lano-Arias, Advocacy Co-ordinator, All We Can.
For further information see: www.vodintl.org.uk