Hindu Enthusiasm At Madras Congress
" MISSIONARIES MUST INDIANISE THEMSELVES Milestone In Church Progress
THE FULL REPORTS WHICH HAVE NOW COME TO HAND INDICATE THAT THE ALL-INDIA CATHOLIC CONGRESS WHICH HAS BEEN HELD IN MADRAS WAS A MOMENTOUS GATHERING, AND AN AUGURY FOR THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA.
Important speeches were made; the Papal Delegate was cordially welcomed by the Indiarz National Congress party; but the most impressive and important feature of all was the huge numbers from every pan of India who made up the two-mile long procession on the closing day. Never before had such a scene been witnessed in India and it created a great impression on the thousands of interested onlookers.
From a Correspondent MADRAS Madras, normally an essentially pagan city, was transformed. The elaborate and picturesque decorations drew the attention of all Madras, and all Madras talked about the Congress and wondered at the Faith which could produce such a manifestation.
Arrival of Papal Delegate
The Papal Legate, Mgr. Kierkels, C.P., Titular Archbishop of Salamis and Delegate-Apostolic to the East Indies, arrived at the Madras railway station in a special carriage.
Waiting to receive him, in and near the station, were 50,000 Catholics and nonCatholics.
On the platform the Papal Legate was greeted on behalf of the Government by the Premier of the Madras Presidency and on the part of the citizens by the Mayor of Madras, A.D.C. to His Excellency the Governor. The Papal Legate was profusely garlanded on alighting from the train. Then he entered a cal riage placed at his disposal by H.H. the Prince of Arcot, and amid the cheers of the multitude, escorted by some two hundred cars, drove to St. Mary's Cathedral where the Brief of the appointment of the Legate was read.
Civic Reception The Papal Delegate was then cordially received by the Madras Corporation Council. It was the first instance of the Madras Corporation according a civic reception to the official representative of the Pope, a gesture greatly appreciated by Catholics throughout the country. For the first time in its long history of 250 years, the Council Chamber was filled by rows on rows of Catholic dignitaries clad in their bright purple and red.
In his reply to the Hindu Councillors, His Grace stressed the fact that " the bimillenial institution, the Catholic Church," was not, ON is sometimes asserted, the mouthpiece of Europe or of Europe's politics. "That voice is neither of the East nor of the West; it is the voice of the spirit, independent of climes, nowhere alien any more than the voice of science and truth, although, as on the day of Pentecost, it is meant to be heard by each in the tongue wherein he was born."
This voice was " today the loudest call to ethical and spiritual values and the widest rallying cry to all believers in God to units in warding off atheism and unbelief."' Functions
It is not possible to treat in a ahort space of all the proceedings at Madras during the Congress. The Pontifical Masses at midnight in different churches, conferences and discussions for the clergy, laity and children, and the children's Mass attended by 10,000 of them were the main ones.
The city of Madras is well known for its open spaces and the best of them, the Island Grounds, was selected for the general functions of the Congress. In these grounds arrangements were made for the construction of specially decorated altars surmounted by a big gold dome on which stood a large monstrance illuminated by 183 bulbs. On either side of the altar there were large pavilions to accommodate the Papal Legate and 60 Bishops and some other dignitaries. An open enclosure suitably decorated provided space for 60,000 people with seating accommodation for about 6,000.
The Opening The solemn opening of the Congress took place here attended by over 50,000 Catholics. This figure does not seem large in comparison with the crowds in the great Catholic manifestations in the West, but we must realise that out of the 700,000 inhabitants of Madras scarcely 40,000 are Catholics and the four million Catholics of India, Burma and Ceylon are scattered in a vast territory.
Among the European bishops and priests there were representatives of some thirty different nations. There were Indians from every Province of the country with their characteristic usages and languages, but all of them united in one faith.
The Solemn Procession The culminating act in which was concentrated the interest of Catholics and nonCatholics was the imposing procession on the last day. It is calculated that about 70,000 participated. The eighteen parishes of Madras formed independent units with of thousands of pilgrims, eight in a row, marched through the main streets of Madras singing and praying to the Eucharistic Lord. A long line of ecclesiastics, who are estimated to number about 1,000 and scores of prelates in their picturesque purple robes formed one of the remarkable features of that unforgettable procession.
On either side of the route there were rows and rows of spectators, most of them Hindus. On the way 15 triumphal arches were erected and banners of the different institutions of India, Burma and Ceylon.
At the end of the procession, as soon as the Blessed Sacrament entered the Island Grounds, the immense crowd observed a profound silence. Then followed an impressive Benediction service after which resolutions adopted in the Congress were read. With this the great Eucharistic festival concluded. A day of glory for the Church in India?
The Church and Gandhi
The speech of the Papal Delegate roused world-wide interest. After saying that it is on the ethical and spiritual plane only, that India can solve its difficulties, with the help of the C'hurch, he gave great praise to Gandhi " who in his inunense endeavours for India's economic uplift never loses sight of the spiritual values."
The future of the Church in India was referred to by the Bishop of Vizagapatam, who emphasised the Church's policy of building up, everywhere, native churches.
"India has absolutely nothing to fear from us. Far from wishing to denationalise her sons we have come to throw in our lot with them and Indianise ourselves among them. India has become our motherland, our home where we mean to live and die," Christ shed His blood for the redemption of the whole world and belongs to all.
He is Indian as well as European and our only desire is to share Him with you.
I am optimistic with regard to the future of the Church in this country. Like Bishop Roche, one of the most illustrious sons of India, I say " We must make Indians realise that Catholicism is not alien in any land."
Missionaries Must Indianise Themselves
The Bishop, who has spent 44 years in India, went on to give the following advice to missionaries: " If we want the people whom we have come to evangelise to listen to us we must first Indianise ourselves fully. Today nothing less will satisfy public opinion. Within the limits of what a Christian missionary can accept or discard in the shape of customs, language, and if necessary dress and ways of living we must lose our Western identity."
Message from Congress
In consequence of this and much else of the same tenour it is not surprising to hear that a message of greeting was sent by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress