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Indian Bishops hear Pope condemn caste system

John Paul II has told a group of Indian bishops that the Church has the duty to foster conversion of hearts to overcome every form of racial, sexual or religious discrimination.

"Indifference and class struggle must be turned into brotherhood and committed service," the Pope said earlier this week. "Discrimination based on race, colour, creed, sex or ethnic origin must be rejected as totally incompatible with human dignity."

At the same time, the Holy Father firmly condemned the caste system when he met with the bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Madras-Mylapore, Madurai and Pondicherry-Cuddalore, at the conclusion of a series of five-yearly visits by the prelates of India.

"Like so many places in the world, India is beset by numerous social problems," the Pope observed. "In some ways, these challenges are exacerbated because of the unjust system of caste division which denies the human dignity of entire groups of people."

"Ignorance and prejudice must be replaced by tolerance and understanding," John Paul II said, repeating the words he expressed during a homily in Indira Gandhi Stadium, New Delhi, on 2 February 1986.

"At all times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lowest castes, especially the Dalits," he exhorted the bishops.

Indian Bishops Hear Pope Condemn Caste System (Catholic Bishops Conference of India/Zenit 17/11/03)

Papal Address to Bishops of Madras-Mylapore, Madurai and Pondicherry-Cuddalore (Zenit 17/11/03)
Catholic Bishops Conference of India

20 Nov 2003