Monday, April 04, 2005

Ivan Cardinal Dias

Mumbai's Ivan Cardinal Dias is being mentioned in the media as a long-shot papabili -- one who could be Pope.

Not being Catholic ourselves, we don't know much about Cardinal Dias. From what little we've read, he appears very conservative on social issues -- in this, he is similar to Pope John Paul II. As Indians ponder if one of our own might become Pope, we think it useful to at least get a sense for how he thinks.

(Indians should also carefully understand the political implications of such a development; the Catholic Church is clearly a mighty political force -- as Polish communists found out. Indians need to clearly understand what an evangelist Indian Pope might imply for our extremely delicate secular balance. This is a complex matter which we'll take up at another time.)

It isn't our place to critique or applaud the Cardinal's views, we only seek to report on them. Consider, his social views from a 2003 speech he made in Rome at a conference on depression, as reported by National Catholic Reporter:

Cardinal Ivan Dias of Mumbai (Bombay), India, delivered the conference’s final talk. Careful readers will have noted that he is on the list of “top 10” papal candidates.

Dias’ paper was titled, “Towards a Pastoral Care of Christian Faith and Trust in Life.” He emphasized use of the Bible, openness to the movements of the Holy Spirit, and the sacraments as keys to a pastoral strategy for depressed persons.

Dias offered examples of this pastoral care, which also help illustrate his attitude towards the hot-button issues of abortion and homosexuality.

“It is an open secret that hidden and unforgiven sins easily lead a person to be depressed,” Dias said. He told the story of a priest who was counseling a depressed woman. The priest bluntly asked if she had had an abortion. After initial anger, she said yes.

“The priest led her step by step to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” Dias said. “Then he helped her to accept the child she had rejected, to love it and even to give it a name. At every step the lady became calmer and at the end was all smiles at the thought of meeting her baby one day.”

Similarly, Dias said he knew a priest who had worked with three homosexual and lesbian couples.

“For many years they had been trying to get rid of their inordinate attachments through professional counseling and through the confessional, but in vain,” Dias said. “Their problem was leading them not to death of the body, but more seriously to that of the soul. You will be glad to learn that all three cases were cured completely of their unnatural tendencies.”

Dias urged greater effort in helping those who suffer from depression. “Pastoral care for the depressed is a must today. It must enter every home, parish, community, diocese and society at large,” he said.

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