Religious outlook has not changed in Nepal: Jesuit

The population in Nepal does not understand the value of secularism; religious freedom and equality are vital to transforming society, to end superstition and discrimination.

Nepal
Nov 06 2013, 5:01 PM
Religious outlook has not changed in Nepal: Jesuit
Father William Robins

Father William Robins, a Jesuit who has lived in Nepal for 36 years, hopes people of Nepal would enjoy equal rights and religious freedom soon.

"When all the people of a nation are equal before the law, enjoy equal consideration from political parties and mechanisms of the state and have the same economic rights, then we come close to the Kingdom of Christ," he said.

Born into a Catholic family in Canada, Father Robins’ mission in South Asia started in Bhutan in 1971. He reached Nepal in 1977 and became the Community Superior in 1991. He teaches at the Institute of St. Xavier.

The population in Nepal does not understand the value of secularism; religious freedom and equality are vital to transforming society, to end superstition and discrimination.   

He denounced the ‘Afno-Manche culture’ of nepotism prevalent in Nepal, where one’s kin are provided with opportunities that should be available for all.

Transformation from a Hindu monarchy to secular democracy has not brought any fundamental changes, he said. "We are free to practice our faith, but there is no freedom for those who wanted to convert. The laws are still the same, despite the government being secular. Six Protestant friends were sentenced to 6 years imprisonment on charges of forced conversion recently."

“We never choose easy conversions, but expect people to come to us attracted by our service. Currently there are about 60 Jesuits in the country, engaged in education, healthcare and peace building. We want to continue to serve the population to improve their quality of life, especially that of the most needy."

"When a young Catholic sees us happy, working hard and enjoying life in service to God, he is attracted to us. Living a model life is the key," he said on vocations. 10 young Nepalese are undergoing vocational training at present.

Father Robins is wary of Hindu fundamentalists. He recalled the bomb attack on the Cathedral of the Assumption in 2009 and the murder of Father John Prakash in 2008. He felt that leaders of different religions should preach love and mutual respect in order to strengthen inter-religious solidarity. 

Source: AsiaNews

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