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THE GOAN CONTEXT

14. Historically, Goan society has passed through various stages of transition. Its liberation from Portuguese colonialism in 1961, the Opinion Poll of 1967, the achievement of Statehood for Goa in 1987, the inclusion of the Konkani language in the VIII schedule and its recognition as the official language of Goa in 1987 have been commendable affirmations of its political identity and maturity.

SOCIO-ECONOMICO-POLITICAL CONCERNS

15. In comparison with the other States of India, Goa is well placed in terms of population, literacy and economic viability. Its per capita income and its standard of living are among the highest in the country. Goa’s social development index is also impressive. Literacy is 82.32% (Provisional Census 2001), the annual growth rate is at 6% and infant mortality is relatively low. Infrastructural statistics of communications, eg. roads, telephones, etc. indicate high development, making Goa an accepted front-runner in the development of the Indian economy. Goa’s natural beauty makes it a prime destination for tourism.

16. While it is claimed that Goa has the highest per capita income in India, the scenario for local Goans is rather bleak. Unemployment among youth is an enormous problem for Goan society. Consequently young persons are migrating abroad and the percentage of Goans in Goa is rapidly declining.

17. An even more serious cause for concern is the political situation in Goa. Goa’s high frequency of political defections and unstable governments, lack of accountability in general administration and rampant corruption have caused the initial euphoria towards democratic governance to fade into cynicism.

18. The phenomenon of globalisation has not left Goa untouched. This has had debilitating consequences on the family network and the social fabric. The result has been a growth in individualism, consumerism and greed, leading to a further fragmentation of society, increasing violence and crime in Goa. The peaceful security of Goa is gradually vanishing. Given the socio-economico-political situation and the effect of globalisation, the cultural identity of Goa is dangerously threatened.

CULTURE AND EDUCATION

19. The culture of Goa is a mosaic of different sub-cultures ranging from the traditional tribal forms to the classical Indian and Western traditions. Due to the Portuguese influence, a harmonious blend of East and West is one of the dominant characteristics of Goan cultural identity. Literature, art, music, cuisine are among other typical expressions of Goa’s unique culture. In particular, Konkani, our mother tongue, constitutes one of the basic elements of our identity. Besides, Marathi language and literature also form part of the Goan cultural reality, particularly in the New Conquests.

20. The cultural diversity of Goa has been traditionally nurtured and developed by a wide network of schools. Goa has a very large number of primary and secondary schools and an adequate number of institutions of higher education in all branches. The Church has always been in the vanguard of education and can be proud of being the cornerstone of the educational effort in Goa.

 

 

21. Goan culture, nevertheless, has been under siege from both within and without. The liberalisation of the Indian economy and the advent of globalisation have had a disastrous impact on our society, particularly on Goan youth. The gap between first generation educated children and their parents is another area of concern.

22. The promotion of Goa as an attractive and lucrative tourist destination has left deep scars and is causing further wounds to the ecology and ethos of Goa. Drugs, prostitution, paedophilia, alcoholism, etc. are a constant menace to our families, and in particular to our youth, especially in the coastal villages of Goa.

23. Spiritual, cultural and religious values like respect for persons, especially parents and elders, integrity of character, concern and responsibility for family members and neighbours, have been largely eroded by the lure of quick money. Ostentatious life styles and extravagant celebrations, due to social pressure, are disturbing elements in our culture.

24. Our educational system has not succeeded in inculcating a sense of justice, honesty and respect for the laws of the nation or in imparting the necessary skills for nation building. Keen on achieving good academic results, our schools have sacrificed other priorities and failed to devise strategies for the all-round development of the students. It is a matter of grave concern that the culture of mediocrity pervades our schools, colleges and other educational institutions, thus leading to a fall in academic standards, in intellectual curiosity and in serious research.

RELIGIOUS SITUATIONS

25. The people of Goa take pride in their religious heritage that has been woven of true religious harmony and peaceful co-existence among Hindus, Muslims and Christians. According to the Census of 1991, 64.68% of the Goan population are Hindus, 29.86% are Christians and about 5.25% are Muslims. Besides, followers of other religions are also present in Goa in smaller numbers. Despite the influence of modernisation and secularisation, all the religions in Goa are showing signs of great vitality and a capacity for renewal, as seen in reform movements within the various religious groups.

26. However, in the recent past, the rise of fundamentalist groups and communal forces on the national scenario and the existence of bitter tensions and violent conflicts, disturbing the religious tolerance and violating the secular character of our Indian society, have had an adverse impact on the traditional Goan religious harmony. Even common developmental ventures and movements, meant for the overall welfare of the people of Goa, have been looked at suspiciously and branded as communal. The subtle change in attitudes and relationships among members of different religions can be felt in the day-to-day life in many villages and neighbourhoods in Goa. Another disquieting factor is the emergence of various sects, with members who have broken away from the mainline Christian Churches.

27. Hence the centuries-old peaceful religious harmony in Goa is gradually becoming an illusion and is presently an area of grave and deep concern.

MASS MEDIA AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

28. Mass Media and Information Technology are affecting the whole of our society in ways beyond our grasp and control. Nowhere has their impact been more powerfully felt than in the fields of education and culture.

29. On the one hand, exposure to the media has influenced students, their parents and teachers quite positively to the extent of opening their cultural horizons by enabling them to keep pace with the age of technology. Information Technology has been a vehicle to promote speedier and more efficient communication and has opened new avenues for employment, especially among the youth.

30. On the other hand, the onslaught of a consumerist culture espoused by the media through tantalizing advertisements and programmes has increasingly led to a deterioration of traditional values. The TV culture has had adverse and harmful effects on the daily interaction in the sanctuary of our families.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

31. Goa is blessed with such geographical contours and natural resources that make it not only a land of great beauty but also an attractive and hospitable place to live in. No natural catastrophe has so far caused any great damage to our land and population unlike in several other parts of the Indian subcontinent.

32. One of the great crises of our times, however, has been the ecological imbalance caused by the ruthless exploitation and misuse of our rich natural resources. To a great extent, this is the outcome of unbridled industrialisation and ill-planned construction by vested interests throughout Goa. Silting of rivers due to the dumping of mining rejects on river banks, dwindling water resources, deforestation and consequent soil erosion, increase of waste, particularly plastics and atmospheric pollution are among our major ecological concerns.

33. We are becoming increasingly aware of ecological degradation, not only because of the harm caused to the natural environment, but also because we realise that the quality and safety of human life is being seriously threatened in Goa.

FAMILY AT THE CROSSROADS OF SOCIETY

34. The family is the first and vital cell of Society. It is a school of initiation into life in society. The basic relationships, the intrinsic stability and the well-ordered life in the family constitute the foundations for true freedom, security and harmony within our Society. The traditional family life in Goa down the corridors of time has been a sanctuary of mutual respect, warm hospitality and lasting security.

35. However, the family is in a highly vulnerable situation and under tremendous stress today. Being at the crossroads of human endeavours, the family takes the brunt of the onslaught of various forces that threaten its very existence, even human life itself.

36. Since every person comes into this world through a family and goes forth from it into the larger Society of fellow men and women, we ought to address ourselves seriously to all the concerns already dealt with in the Goan Context and which affect in one way or the other, directly or indirectly, the growth of our human family. Hence, in the process of our Renewal, and on our march towards building the New Society, the Family will be the nucleus and basis of all our reflections.

THE CHURCH IN GOA – CHALLENGED TO BE LEAVEN OF A NEW SOCIETY

37. The Goan Situation, with all its concerns and issues shared by Christians with our fellow Goans, challenges us, the disciples of Christ, to respond to our mission of being leaven for the transformation of this world into the family of God (cf. GS 40). The Kingdom of God is the concern of everyone: individuals, society and the world. Hence, working for it means promoting God’s activity, present in human history and transforming it. Building the Kingdom means working at liberation from evil in all its forms – personal, interpersonal and structural – for the fulfillment of God’s plan (cf. RM 15).

38. When we accept God’s love through a sincere repentance, there begins a mighty movement of personal and societal liberation. This movement brings FREEDOM, in as much as it liberates each individual from the inadequacies and obsessions that shackle him/her. It fosters FELLOWSHIP because it empowers free individuals to exercise their concern for each other in genuine community. And it leads on the JUSTICE because it urges every true community to adopt the just societal structures that alone make freedom and fellowship possible. These three parameters of the Kingdom would inspire and urge us to build a New Society.

39. Jesus shows us that the Kingdom is for all by reaching out to those who are on the margins of society. He comes close to them, eating in their homes, treating them as equals and friends. He makes them feel loved by God. Two of Jesus’ gestures are characteristic: healing and forgiving, signs that the Kingdom of God has come among us (cf. Mt 12:28). He gives us a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34) – a love that found its highest expression in the gift of His life (Jn 10:17). This love excludes no one, but embodies a priority of service to the poor and the voiceless with whom the Lord has identified Himself in a special way (cf. Mt 25:40, RM 14, EA 34).

40. Since Jesus always lived in intimacy with His ‘Abba’ from whom He drew all the strength and inspiration for His day-to-day ministry, we recognize that all our actions for the Kingdom have to be supported by prayer and communion with God. Being part of the people of Asia who love silence and contemplation, and, particularly, given our own Indian tradition of meditation, asceticism and prayer, we ought to be contemplative in action. For action in the service of our sisters and brothers, in solidarity with their struggles for liberation, grows from within the very midst of the prayer that reaches God’s heart.

41. The Spirituality of Jesus, which is the Spirituality of the Kingdom, originates in a profound experience of God and of humankind. It leads to the freedom and the love which empower Him and us, His disciples, to identify with the poor and the outcast by living in solidarity with them (INCARNATION), to confront the powerful and the rich (CROSS), in order to give life (RESURRECTION).

42. We ought to realise that the process of our transformation has to be founded on our deep personal as well as communitarian experience of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In order to become effective signs and instruments of the Kingdom of God in our midst, the Spirit has given a clarion call to the Church in Goa for our own renewal which demands our being rooted in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour (cf. Col 2:7).

OUR MAIN THRUST

43. Given the rediscovery of the distinctive and essential role of the lay faithful within the People of God by Vatican II and the clear affirmation and emphatic articulation of the same in Christifideles Laici as early as 1988, the lay faithful of Goa will play an important and decisive role in ushering in a New Society in Goa.

44. In this century of the lay faithful, we envisage the integral formation and empowerment of the lay faithful primarily at the Parish level, since the Parish is the basic unit of renewal where the Christian life is lived in the concrete and where the Church lives in the midst of the homes of her daughters and sons (cf. CL 26). Our Christian community in every Parish of Goa should be imbued with a sense of mission that it is a leaven in the midst of the human community of the Parish. The process of renewal, up to now, has been limited largely to the level of the Diocese only. The process needs to be extended to the Parishes thus becoming a mass movement involving and affecting the whole People of God at the grassroots. All the Diocesan Centres and Commissions should move towards the Parishes or Deaneries with all their programmes. Besides, the networking of the SCCs within the parish community will have a key role in the overall formation of the lay faithful.

45. The SCCs have to play an important role in realizing the Kingdom by moving towards all people in the neighbourhood, be they followers of sects, members of other Churches, people of other religions and all women and men of goodwill, thus paving the way for the Small Human Communities (SHCs), cells of justice and love of the New Society. All these structures will enable us to enter into communion, fellowship and solidarity with all our sisters and brothers – members of the one human family. So both at the Diocesan and Parish levels we should think of structures in which Christians, followers of Other Faiths and all people of good will jointly involve themselves in action for the common issues or causes affecting the whole village or society in general.

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.
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