Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 18 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Maria Teresa Fasce
home iconUncategorized
line break icon

Church on Edge as Nepal Undergoes Birth Pangs of New Constitution

Anto Akkara

Anto Akkara - published on 08/19/15

Christianity will finally be officially recognized, but will it be infringed upon?

Kathmandu — The church in Nepal is on the edge as Nepal struggles to finalize its much-awaited new constitution amid sporadic protests, violent clashes and shut downs in several districts over demarcation of the provinces under the draft constitution.

“There is lot of tension, both good news and bad news for us on the constitution [making] front,” Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Vicariate of Nepal told Aleteia August 19 — a day after as a young protester died in police firing.

On the positive side, Father Bogati pointed out that: “At least church and Christianity will be recognized in the constitution. This is a big move forward.”

“Right now, we were functioning as an NGO (non-governmental organization),” pointed out Father Bogati, spokesperson for the minuscule Catholic Church in Nepal that numbers less than 10,000 among 30 million people in the former Hindu kingdom.

Unlike the Catholic Church, the evangelicals have made rapid inroads in Nepal since 1990s when state sponsored persecution of converts was eased. They now number well over a million.

Nepal’s centuries old Hindu monarchy was brought down by a popular uprising led by Maoists in 2006. Since then, Nepal has been struggling to bring out a new constitution as the first Constituent Assembly was dissolved in 2012 after failing to complete statue making despite extended tenure of four years.

As per the existing laws, Christianity is not recognized as a religion in Nepal — unlike Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam. Consequently, Christianity has no legal status and churches cannot register with the government.

This has forced the Catholic congregations like Catholic Association to register as NGOs (non-government organization) to buy land and erect churches.

The Assumption Church in Nepal’s capital — the finest and the biggest Catholic church in the whole of the Himalayan nation — is the fruit of such an initiative by the laity to get around the disadvange of Christianity’s not being recognized as a religion.

On the other hand, the constitution in the making is “keeping us on the edge,” conceded Father Bogati.

“We are worried about what will be the final wording of the Article 31. We are worried specially about the 3rd clause,” he elaborated.

Article 31 of the new constitution deals with “freedom of religion” with the three clauses under it set to be crucial to the future of the church and the Christians.

While Clause 1 upholds individual freedom of religion as a fundamental right, Clause 2 guarantees that all religious communities have the right “to establish, run and preserve their religious trust according the law” which should be a welcome change for Christians.

On the contrary, Clause 3 bans proselytizing or conversion by clerics as “those activities are punishable according to law.”

“This clause is a nightmare for us. We hope it will be amended and the ‘punitive part’ will be taken away,” pointed out Father Bogati.

“We have made clear to the government that this clause contravenes the freedom of faith.” Since Nepal is a signatory to the UN convention “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” he pointed out that Nepal should not enact a constitution that infringes this fundamental right.

Clause 1 under Article 18 of this International Covenant, passed by the UN General Assembly in 1966, lays down that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

  • 1
  • 2
Tags:
CatholicismReligious Freedom
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
SAINT RITA CASCIA
Bret Thoman, OFS
Traces of miracles remain at the birthplace o...
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
Reasons Catholics should read the Bible
POPE JOHN PAUL II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's formula for defeating evil...
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.