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Catholics divided on Goa leader's move to change history texts

A Hindu leader in India's Goa state has demanded that schools in the former Portuguese enclave teach students about their ancestors' resistance to Christian religious conversion and colonialism.

UCA News reports that some Catholics back the demand, but others dismiss it as an attempt by Hindu hard-liners to get a toehold in the Catholic stronghold of western India.

Subash Velingkar made the demand during a meeting organised by villages in the state to commemorate 16 of their ancestors who died opposing European missionaries in the 16th century. The Portuguese ruled Goa from 1510 to 1961.

The strongest opposition to missionaries came from a cluster of villages around Cuncolim. In 1583, the villagers killed five Jesuits and five local Catholics.

Today's Catholics venerate the Jesuits, whom the Church beatified in 1893. Cuncolim has a chapel dedicated to them and a memorial to the chieftains. Cuncolim is in Salcette region, a nerve centre for Goa's Catholics. Christians, mostly Catholics, account for 29% of the state's 1.35 million people.

The meeting unanimously resolved to ask the government to have its history books include Cuncolim villagers' opposition to Portuguese subjugation. Velingkar, the chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, national volunteers corps) in Goa, explained to participants that everyone in the state should know Cuncolim's history, which he said was "written in blood".

The RSS is the umbrella organisation of right-wing Hindu groups that want India to become a Hindu nation.

Catholics Divided Over Hindu Leader's Demand To Change Textbooks in Goa (Union of Catholic Asian News 23/7/04 - free registration required)

Hindu Extremists Destroy Church Under Construction in Gujarat (Zenit 23/7/04)
St. Francis Xavier's Relics Expected to Draw 3 Million to Goa (Zenit 22/7/04)
Spain Readies for 5th Centenary of Francis Xavier's Birth (Zenit 23/7/04)

27 Jul 2004