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Sep 25 : Bishop Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, who assumed office as Bishop of Mangaluru diocese recently, began a great initiative for better harmony in the society in the region. He called a meeting on Monday, September 24 in which religious leaders from different religions, political and community leaders, administrators, intellectuals and heads of media houses participated and discussed openly about bringing about change in society to promote humanity.

Bishop Dr Peter Paul, briefing about Bandutva said, “As I take up my office as the new bishop of this diocese, which has 124 churches and numerous institutions of learning and medical care and social upliftment, I reflect on enhancing the goodness of Mangaluru. Our life flows into the life of another and our decisions give directions to the lives of many. So also the life of others flows into ours. They have unseen impact and we do feel, no two meetings are the same, even with the same person. The experience adds newness every day.”

“I have also a message to share and you are called to give your observations. We are in the process of making this city and this district a smart city. Surely, for us ‘smart’ would mean different things. A smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. Look at the definition. It is a product -oriented concept and it seems to be less process-oriented. It does not tell us how we are going to train people to work for harmony and create fellow feeling. It does not tell us how it becomes deeply respectful towards human beings and environment and not merely tolerant. It does not tell us, how it will teach the art of loving and compassion. Whose duty is it to do these things?” he added.

Smart City with a heart

“I wish our smart city be a Smart City with a heart. It could be a slogan-Mangaluru, a smart city with a heart. In my childhood, I heard one song in Kannada that always resounds in my heart ‘Devaramakkalu Naavella..’ The song appeals the humanity to help one another, especially the needy, based on the one common brotherhood. We are all the children of the same God. So any discrimination based on any factor is unjust and against our creator. If God is Love and Compassion and Truth, as Christianity, Islam and Hinduism proclaim respectively, then we also have to become Love, Compassion and Truth as his image,” bishop said.

“When the blood is transfused from a Christian to a Hindu, does it become Hindu or does it remain Christian? When a kidney transplantedfrom a Muslim to Hindu, does it change religion or retains its status quo? If our blood gels well and if our organs can be transplanted, and there is no fear that the body will reject them because, they are of a person of another religion, how is it then we, when it comes to totality of the person, reject one another?” he said.

“To recognize our brotherhood and sisterhood, we need to build Bandutva, fraternity. We have great possibilities of envisioning where we can come together, dialogue with one another whether it is between religious traditions, between cultures or languages. We share the common denominator, humanity. In mathematics, to add or subtract the fractions, we use least common denominator. In life, to add the various fractions, various groups, various traditions, can we not use humanity as the least common denominator?” he asked.

“In the Bible, we are called to love one another as Jesus has loved us, or love your neighbour as yourself. We are not very sure whether we really love God, but if we have love for our neighbour, then, it is a sure sign that we love God.

“I have called this meeting especially to listen, to learn from you, to begin a cordial dialogue with you in whom I see many brothers and sisters, my large extended family. What attitude is needed in this sort of dialogue? All religions insist on the so-called Golden Rule: ‘Do not do to another, what you would not want done to you’. I believe this Golden Rule is found in every culture and religion as a point of encounter which enables us to actualise the ‘Art of Loving’, an authentic method of dialogue,” he said.

“Dialogue first of all means placing yourself on the same level, not having a priori notions, of being better than the others; opening yourself to hearing what the others have inside, putting everything aside in order to enter into their souls and then, naturally, asking them to listen to us. This process allows us to embrace our commonalities that are there – and then agreeing to live those together. That’s concrete dialogue.” he said citing Chaira Lubich. Among the different types of dialogue the bishop insisted on the dialogue of action, that is, working together for common causes.

“Another 50 years, many of us would not be here. Before it is too late, we can make a difference and India can boast of having Mangaluru, a smart city with a heart,” bishop concluded.

Initiative appreciated, support promised

Sri Jitakamandaji from Sri Ramakrishna Mission appreciated the initiative and said, “I am happy to learn about this initiative which will bring a new hope in society. As bishop said we are all children of same God and we are all equals. There should never be any quarrel among people based on the religions. Dialogue between all the communities is the best option to bring harmony in society.”

Prof Vivek Rai said that all the problems should be resolved from the place the problem took place. “Meetings in higher levels will help to some extent. But a visit to the place where the problem took place is more helpful. There you will find more solutions,” he said.

District in-charge minister U T Khader said “I admire the bishop for this special care within days of assuming office. We the government and legislators can make laws. There are many departments to maintain law and order. But to create better human values in society and to maintain greater love among people, the participation of all the people is needed. A dialogue between all the parties concerned will help in achieving this goal. I am sure this concept will definitely help us in bringing perfect peace in the region. Transformation of a human being is more important than anything. I want all the participants to pledge full support.”

Deputy commissioner Shashikanth Senthil said, “The district administration supports such initiatives. We are ready to implement all the policies needed to make the society a better place to live.

The administration can perform better with the help of people. Dialogues of this nature will surely have positive impact in the society. the fruits of this dialogue will be seen in the times to come.”

Educationist Dr Mohan Alva appreciated the efforts and promised his support.

MLAs Vedavyasa Kamath, Umanath Kotian, Bharath Shetty, Sanjeev Matandoor, Rajesh Naik and many political leaders took part in the dialogue including MLC Bhoje Gowda, Mayor Bhaskar Moily, Police commissioner T R Suresh, former MLAs Ramanath Rai, Moideen Bava, Shakuntala Shetty, Amarnath Shetty, Abhayachandra, Vinaya Kumar Sorake and former MLC Ganesh Karnik.

Basti Vaman Shenoy, Roy Castelino, Luvi J Pinto, Vinay Hegde, Daijiworld founder Walter Nandalike, BJP leader Capt Brijesh Chowta, JD(S) leaders Sushil Noronha, Akshith Shetty, customs superintendent Subramanyam and PRO of Mangaluru diocese Fr Victor Vijay Lobo were present among others.

Trustees from Kudroli, Kadri and Mangaladevi temples participated.

Former MLA J R Lobo was the convenor of the programme. Diocese pastoral parishad secretary M P Noronha was the co-convenor.

John D'Silva compered. Invocation song was sung by students of Padua College.

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