A Christian President, Not a Bad Idea!
By Father Anand Muttungal
There has been a crowd of discussions regarding the new president of India to be elected. These discussions have to be seen with serious thoughts since they carry a lot of weight in the present political milieu where regional parties take the shots. It was not so surprising to read the recent proposal of demanding a Christian to be named to the top most job of this Country. I think that the open demand is a fall out of a political miscalculation of the most educated community in the Country and worse than that is the declaration of support to such ideas by some Church heads. These demands are to be seen from two points of views; first of all it is a fact that the most of the Christian members elected to Assemblies and Parliament are neither united as Christian members nor are close to religious heads. Secondly the Christian electorate in general do not pay much attention to the choice of the religious heads in voting. The reason is very clear and loud that the religious heads have not played much serious role in developing Christian socio-political leadership in the Country.
The Vatican Council II opened a revolution when it said that ‘the primary and immediate task of the laity is not to establish and develop the ecclesial community – this is the specific role of the pastors – but to put to use every Christian and evangelical possibility in the affairs of the world.’ (Evanaelii untiandi, 70). It may not be wrong to say that the Catholic Church which holds the largest following in the country needs to answer the weak socio-political leadership of the laity in the Country. It might be better to remember that the Indian political system does not begin from the post of the Prime Minister or President but from the Panchayats. So the religious heads who are interested to promote political leadership of Christians must help to train the young generation in grass-root political leadership.
It might be a question that comes up very often, why should the priests and nuns take initiatives to train the Christians to become political leaders? The answer to this question is being answered by Pope John Paul II when he said in his second millennium message that ‘the third millennium will be of the lay people and the clergy has to make room for it.’ We are going through a time of transition of empowering the laity. It may not be an exaggeration to say that first millennium kings ruled Church, the second millennium clergy and third millennium is for the laity. Keeping this in mind very often I ask, is there any sense in objecting the priests and nuns entering the electoral politics when the religious heads support priests, nuns and even some bishops taking up Government appointments in commissions, committees and councils? Regardless of denominations Church heads in general must make it a policy of promoting the laity into these appointments rather than taking up themselves.
The Church youth organizations will have to initiate steps to give socio-political leadership training along with its usual trainings for youths in Bible, organizing prayer meetings, picnics, cultural programmes etc. It is a reality that Christian community do not have any winning presence except a few constituencies in the Country. Therefore we should not train them as Christian political leaders but train them to become leaders of the society not just Christian leader of the Community.
Our little thought demand for a Christian President might even influence negatively the promotion of Christian leaders in the political circle. Leadership of the community is divided into three heads such as religious, social and political. The religious leadership and social leadership have been monopolized by the clergy and nuns. It has neglected the political leadership. It is the right time that Church heads plan for a clear policy on promoting the motivated Christian and Christian friendly youths into the political leadership. Vatican council II has clearly said that evangelization and development of the ecclesial community is the only and fundamental duty entrusted to the priests, nuns and bishops but the laity are entrusted the world to be developed to be come the better for inhabitants. If we plan well today, may be after a quarter of a century; Christians will come up themselves to the post of the Prime Minister and President of this Country.