Statements of CBCI on Dalit issue

The Church’s response to the urgent needs of the country Mangalore, January 9-17, 1978 No: 14. Page 58.

“The dignity of man confers certain inalienable rights upon him, whatever be the accident of his birth. Any curtailment or, what is worse, denial of these rights is an act of injustice. Hence, discrimination of any type must be part of our Christian concern. When unfortunately, it is practiced within the Church itself, it becomes a countersign to the Gospel values we profess”.

The Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (Kottayam 1988, No 11 page 133) says,.

“We are sadly aware that Christians too retain many negative aspects of the larger society of which they are part. The Scheduled Castes who have joined the Church should have found in it a community of equality and of freedom from caste oppression. But many of them feel twice discriminated against. The Secular State deprives them of economic benefits on a purely religious basis. The discrimination based on caste that is rampant in the rest of society continues also among Christians. Most Christians of Scheduled Caste origin are still deprived of economic opportunities, access to adequate educational facilities, leadership roles and participation in decision-making.”

Statement of the General meeting of CBCI Shillong, November 9-16, 1989 IV. page 146

“The Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin have a double discrimination, as due to the Presidential Order of 1950, they are excluded from the benefits which the Constitution of India guarantees to their counterparts in the Hindu and Sikh religion, while like their Hindu brethren they suffer the brunt of caste discrimination. Converts to Catholicism from among them had hoped for a status of equality, but the structured inequalities practiced in Hinduism continue to be reflected and imposed in the new faith. Despite their break from Hinduism and the caste system, despite the continual assurance of equality, the oppressive and discriminatory past of the Dalits continues is alien to the spirit of Christianity”.

The Statement of the CBCI (Varanasi, March 21-28, 1998) says:

“The prevalence of the caste-based practices, not only in society but also in some parts of the Church in India even at the close of the 20the century, is a matter of shame and disgrace to all of us. It is a cause of sorrow and expression of our inability to live our Christian faith adequately. It is not only a denial of human dignity and equality, but also against the fundamental teachings of Christ…”

Pastoral letter of te Catholic Bishops of India on the occasion of Yesu Krist Jayanti 2000 Chennai, January 17-24, 2000. 1.iii. page 193

“Our efforts to build up communities of love and sharing meet with serious difficulties coming from sociological and cultural factors. In some parts of our country, our communities are not free from caste discriminations. This prevents them from respecting the sacred dignity of the human person, which Christ came to communicate to human kind. We need to eradicate this sinful reality from our Christian Communities.”


“Marginalization has been a phenomenon in our country from very early days, especially as a result of the caste system. Caste discrimination still continues in our country, and sadly has its repercussions on the Church. As Bishops, we reiterate our strong condemnation of this as sinful”.

THE CHURCH’S ROLE FOR A BETTER INDIA, Bangalore, February 1-8, 2012 No 8.7 page 244.

“Recognizing that untouchability and caste discrimination are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, we will root out this evil, wherever it exists, from within the Church and make concerted efforts to empower Dalits”.

Address of Pope John Paul II, to the Bishops of India, On their “AD LIMINA” Visit, Date, Monday, 17 November 2003.

Since the Pope is aware of the practice of untouchability even among the Christians he gave the following advice.

“All the times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lower castes, especially the Dalits. They should never be segregated from other members of the society. Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission of evangelisation. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or reinforce caste division should be sensitively reformed so that they may become an expression of the solidarity of the whole Christian community”.