Vasai (AsiaNews) – Attaining the right equilibrium between materialism and spirituality, opening reason to faith and globalization to respect for different cultures and hence to dialogue. These points of the Regensburg lecture – raised again by Benedict XVI during last Sunday’s Angelus – were highlighted by Mgr Thomas Dabre, bishop of Vasai, ex-chairman of the Commission of the Doctrine of the Faith of the Indian Episcopate.
The bishop, who has a doctorate about the seventeenth century mystic poet Tukaram and who is committed to the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue in the country, consented to talk to AsiaNews about the significance of the pope’s statements, not least from the perspective of his country.
He said: “The Pope's most recent reflection helps us to understand the core of his ‘lectio’ in Regensburg. Unfortunately, his main concern was side-lined by unseemly controversy. The West is quite right in affirming the value of reason but it is wrong in closing the doors to faith transcendence. The human mind and heart, the soul and man is made for reason and faith as well. So, by exaggerating the role of reason and obliterating faith, the West is doing damage to both, reason and faith and this is harmful and dangerous.”
He continued: “Behind the West's material prosperity there is much deterioration. There is homosexuality, teenage pregnancies, single mothers, gay marriage, abortions, pornography, divorce, family break-ups, scandals, abuse of power and more.”
“This is why the Holy Father is right in drawing the attention of the West to a happy blend of reason of faith. Billions of people in the world have faith in God. In order to have dialogue with different religions and cultures, the reason-oriented West must be open to faith-based peoples. In the globalized world we cannot be self satisfied with our own approach. We should be open to the approach of others. Therefore, dialogue is indispensable. To live in peace and harmony in the present day world of mobility and interaction, we need to have the spirit of dialogue, otherwise there will be tensions. World peace calls for the spirit of open dialogue.”
“It is also true that today there is a domination of western culture in different parts of the world,” said Mgr Dabre. “A mono-cultural pattern is being imposed on the world. It is a mistake to suppress diverse cultural values. That will impoverish the world. With the spread of western culture, excessive materialism and some unnatural forms of behaviour are transmitted to the countries of the East.”
“Let us not get carried away by globalization… Indian culture is being battered by globalization that is promoting materialism rigorously at the cost of spirituality. Globalization promotes the importance of outward, physical appearance but together with the beauty parlours and gyms, there should also be institutions to beautify the soul. One cannot deny globalization, but the time has come to strike a balance between materialism and spirituality.”
Expressing his deep concern about the spread of terrorism in the world, India included, Mgr Dabre said spiritual leaders had the responsibility to spread the true meaning of religion among their followers. And he also voiced anxiety about the diffusion of AIDS in India. “Indian culture teaches us to look upon women as mother, sister, daughter or sister-in-law. It does not approve extra-marital or pre-marital relationships. But this is not so in western culture.”