Pope Francis and India: Mutual Enrichment and Challenges
A new Pentecost seems to have accompanied Pope Francis on to the papal scene: a revival of the heart, beyond the head; a revival of wisdom, beyond knowledge; a revival of mercy and forgiveness, beyond rules and regulations and judgment and condemnation; an advent of joy and hope, beyond the mundane reality of struggle and suffering. There is also call to an expansion of horizon beyond our narrow domestic walls of religious segregations: a call to an inclusiveness taking all aboard beyond an exclusivist indifference. This chapter will examine both the theological and political challenges of the theology of Pope Francis in India, as well as the Indian challenges to Francis. India is a Hindu-majority country, with a minority Catholic population. The Catholic Church runs an extensive network of schools and hospitals in India and is widely praised for the excellence of its services. The work of Saint Teresa of Calcutta is also widely admired. However, the recent rise of Hindu nationalist parties and the overall tensions in India related to religion (Muslim, Christian, and Hindu) provide a complicated environment for Pope Francis.