Need for liturgical services in Konkani

 The national convention on ‘Konkani in Liturgy’, convened by Jagotik Konknni Songhotton (Global Konkani Organisation) in association with Catholic Konkani Rakann Sanchalan (Chikmagalur-Hassan) was held at the Catholic Club, Chikmagalur and was attended by around 500 delegates from all over India.

The national convention was necessitated following the denial of the right to Konkanis to pray and offer mass in their mother tongue, in many Catholic Dioceses around India – despite their considerable numbers; and the recurring attacks on the faithful, while exercising this right, in recent times, spearheaded by an organisation called ‘Akhila Karnataka Katholic Kannada Kraistara Sangha.’

Vally Vagga (Valerian D’souza) who inaugurated the convention by ringing bells (bells used during mass, by altar boys) said that these bells were the bells of awakening and the bells of warning. He called upon Konkanis to shed their lethargy and come-out strongly in the defence of their mother tongue.

Rev Dr Pratap Naik, a Jesuit priest of the Goa Province, a linguist and a leader of the Konkani movement, quoted extensively from Canon Law and the Declaration of the IInd Vatical Council, establishing beyond doubt the right of the faithful to conduct liturgical and para-liturgical services in the vernacular.

‘Vernacular’ clearly means ‘the language of the people’ and is certainly not the ‘official language’ or the ‘state language’ or the ‘national language,’  he asserted.

JKS Secretary General Eric Ozario, read-out a letter written to him by Advocate Mahadev Deshak, a veteran lawyer from Mysore who has fought and won many legal battles on this issue and who, today, is considered the foremost expert on the subject, anywhere in India.

In his letter, he reiterated the rights of Catholics to conduct Liturgy in their mother tongue; rights, both under the laws of the land and of the Church. What thrilled the convention most was his offer to fight the cause of the Konkanis in the courts of law, “without any expectation in the service of Lord and Saviour Christ.”

The resolutions passed in the convention said that the Konkanis, like any other language grouping in India, have every right, granted to them by the Constitution of the country and by the Catholic Church, to conduct liturgical and para-liturgical services in Konkani; and also that no power on earth is empowered to deny, suppress or obstruct them in the exercise of this right.

It urged the church authorities to conduct the liturgical services in Konkani if 10 per cent of the population in any parish in India request for the same.

Konkanis must be allowed to exercise their right without any obstacles and it is the duty of the state to create a conducive atmosphere to allow Konkanis to exercise this right, the resolution said.

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