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Gandhi and the Popes

From Pius XI to Francis

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Peter Gonsalves

Gandhi today is universally recognised as an international icon, but did his influence extend to the Vatican as well? The author unravels the answer by pursuing six research targets. The book opens with a historical inquiry into Gandhi’s unsuccessful attempt to meet Pius XI, and then goes on to examine the writings and speeches of the Popes from Pius XI to Benedict XVI who alluded to Gandhi. Adopting a hermeneutical slant, it also engages in a comparative study of the thoughts and actions of Pope Francis and Gandhi, and highlights some remarkable similarities that call for an explanation. In the process, the book explores and assesses the popular claim that Gandhi was influenced by Christ, and the not so popular conjecture that Francis was influenced by Gandhi.
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Appendix VII Jerome D’souza, The Question Of ‘Adaptation’ in India

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Appendix VII

JEROME D’SOUZA, S.J.

THE QUESTION OF ‘ADAPTATION’ IN INDIA1

As the first Assistant of the newly formed ‘Assistancy of India and East Asia’, Fr. Jerome D’Souza stressed the need for Jesuits to ‘adapt’ to the Indian context with regard to their academic commitment to Philosophy and Theology, as well as to their external manner of living. This 1960 conference to Jesuit Provincials of India anticipated by about five years the official documents of Vatican II on the need for inculturating the Church in non-Christian contexts. It was a noteworthy attempt to rectify the flaws underscored by Gandhi’s critique of Europeanised Christianity.

The question of presenting the message of the Gospel in the way best adapted to the psychology, the customs, and the traditions of the people to whom it is addressed, has always exercised the minds of the preachers of the Word of God. While the substance of Divine Revelation remains always the same, the language in which it is conveyed varies with different peoples and different epochs. We do not preach Christianity to the people of Asia as we preach it to the people of Africa. The need of becoming, in the manner of the great Apostle, “all things to all men in order to save all”, prompts us to adjust the language, the style, and the symbols we use to what is called the mentality of the people whom we address.

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